Chapter III

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Callier continues to power forward

Former GJR youth and hoops great shares his passion for the game and life

Last year it was on my heart to develop a program for at risk youth. I wanted to to tell them my story of overcoming adversity and triumphing against the odds. Though I have been very busy with basketball this past year, this program has been in my sight. It is my desire to expand it across Pennsylvania next summer. I am very excited and look forward to another season of professional basketball. I will be headed to Sweden to play for Jämtland Basket in the Swedish Basketball League. This is a great milestone for me, considering how far I have come. This is the message I try to convey to kids. From humble beginnings, walking I turned a bleak future into a promising one. During my annual basketball camps, the Pro Experience, I have relayed this message of never giving up. I am committed to the George Junior Republic and the Grove City community that gave me a chance and supported me so much. This is why I come back every year, not only to do my basketball camps but to visit the people that mean so much to me. This past season, I was challenged to practice what I preach in my camps.

After last year’s centennial celebration at GJR, I was invited to go to a NBA D League Tryout. I was so happy my old coach from the Vermont Frostheaves wanted me to come out to Bakersfield California, to tryout for his team the Bakersfield Jam. I was doing fairly well being one of the leaders of the team and then I got hurt. I never been so close to accomplishing my dreams ever before, I was crushed that my body let me down in that way. I took some time to reflect on what I should do from there. That was the closes I ever had been to considering actually quitting basketball. It was a rough moment in my life, but with the support of my family and friends, I was able fight through this rough time and kept striving to pursue my goal: a basketball career.

I soon got myself healthy and started marketing myself to different teams in the U.S and over seas. I ended up going to play another season for the Vermont Frostheaves in Barre Vermont. I had a rough season there, I didn’t play very much and the situation was not luxurious to say the least. Our coach ended up leaving half way through the season. After his departure , things got worse. The only bright spot (and warm spot) was getting to go to Puerto Rico.

Post Season, I decided that I try to play in the International Basketball League to stay in shape and work on my game. After several attempts to contact coaches, I made an impression on a coach out of Edmonton, Canada. He invited me to play for the Edmonton Energy. This was the first time I understood what I needed to do before I even stepped foot in the gym. I knew my role for this team was leadership and unselfish play. I ended up doing really well, averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds a game. Not only did I play well, but I had the time of my life!

Now I am beginning another exciting journey to Sweden, I am really excited and proud that I overcame the challenges of life and ended up accomplishing my goal. Next year the Pro experience Basketball camp will expand to state facilities around the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and my regular camp for the community of Grove City and George Junior Republic will grow as well. I am making friends at Nike that are willing to donate to my cause. I hope that it comes through for next year. I just want to take the time to thank George Junior Republic, the staff, teachers, administration and most importantly the community and supporters for supporting my career. I look forward to another exciting year and I will tell you all about it next year.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Energy find their Renaissance Man

Catch up with Benson as he soars with IBL's Edmonton Energy this summer!

Latest Article: Callier has proven himself against best in the business.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How to Finish a Season?

I'm asking, how do I close a season the right way? Very seldom do I see a paragon of basketball professionalism at the end of the season. I'm searching for that answer via a great example, but very seldom I see it in players. That "it" from what I can see it ebbs and flows through each individual as an act of good will.
My approach is to treat every situation as a act of good will, without the intentions of reciprocal gain. After looking back what I took away from the Heaves this year is the act of goodwill. I am grateful for the opportunity to add a positive message to the community of Barre and carry that ideal to my next stop. Now, I am off to a summer league in Canada. I was picked up by the Edmonton Energy. I thoroughly considered the situation and the best thing to promote the game at a very high level is to play for the Energy. I have a lot on the line and excellence is the only alternative. This is Benson Callier Pro Wingz Journal Owt

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Disease of Me

I remember my first two years of college at FSU, my coach would preach to us about a sickness. A diabolical disease that kills all hopes for a championship. Although his delivery came across as a joke, I now see how important it is. As the great Pastor Bell Of Lively Stone Church in Bowling Green Kentucky would say "you might not need this right now but you can set this on the shelf and use it when you need it" she would say that to me when she would hit me with some deep spiritual lessons that I wasn't ready to understand. Much like Pastor Bell, Coach Hamilton at FSU would always talk about the disease of me. I never really understood what it really meant. I never forgot the saying, and I think about it all the time. I finally decided to learn about the disease of me. Apparently, this is a saying from coach Pat Riley, he spoke about it in his book. I think that I should share what I found on it. This is what I am commited to for the rest of the season. Thanks coach Ham.

The Disease of Me=the defeat of us
6 symptoms of the disease of me
1. Chronic feelings of under appreciation-focused on oneself
2. Paranoia of being cheated out ones rightful share.
3. Leadership vacuum resulting from formation of cliques and rivalries.
4. Feelings of fraustration even when the team performs sucessfully.
5. Personal effort mustered solely to outshine ones teammate.
6. Resentment of the competence of another-refuse to admire his contribution.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Having the Courage to Compete

What does it really mean to compete? Compete means, to strive against another or others to attain a goal. Also, to compete is simply to take part in a contest. I have expanded my understanding of what it means to compete, after watching a special on HBO last week covering the Magic and Bird rivalry.
Throughout my amateur experiences coaches would drill competing to me. I remember running Kansas 17's for simply not competing with teammates in practice. If I was a coach, I think I would build my entire philosophy on teaching my team what it means to compete. Now that I think about it, I've never had a coach help me define what competing is and how to help me apply it to my game both on and off the court. I think they just assumed I should already know. After watching the HBO documentary of the Magic vs. Bird rivalry, I am more aware of what it means to compete.
Compete: A competition is the act of competing in a contest between rivals. A rival is a competitor you compete with in a match. A competitor is someone considered your equal and capable of competing with another. To settle a dispute between two equal rivals; I must compete.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, both arguably top 5 basketball players of all time. The HBO special highlights their fanatical obsession with being considered the better player out of the two.
Bird is a small town guy from Frenchlick, Indiana. With his blue collar work ethic,he played the game with a get'er done mentality, and a old fashioned grit that bothered opponents. The controversy that surrounded Bird was that he was that good and white. Bird couldn't escape the volatile racial situation of that time. When Bird first entered the NBA he was considered the Great White Hope in a NBA that was labeled as too black by its fans.
From the outside looking in Magic was a city boy who grew a affinity for the bright lights in big games. Magic thrived in the spotlight. On game night at the Forum, it was show time in LA. Magic and Bird competed for glory on many occasions. Both shared similar styles on the court but different approaches off the court. Magic a more flashy, show time type of style, Bird more grit and blue collar. The one thing that set them both apart from everyone else during their eras was how far they was willing to go to win in. They have what I consider the courage to compete.
Bird admitted his need to even hate his competition in order to be successful. He even made up things about his opponents to get himself jacked up for the game. Bird's personality amalgamated with confidence and a will to prove people wrong. Bird had the perfect personality to play the bad guy in the NBA. I think it is safe to say that between the borderline dirty play, the grit, and racial climate in the NBA; Bird was hated by a majority of his competitors in the NBA and I don't think he would have it any other way.
Thinking about Birds courage to compete against any and everybody he matched up against, I realized that same approach is what made him who he was. Instead of running away from his nature, he embraced it and applied it to his game, now people don't call him the Great White Hope, its Larry Legend. Having the courage to hate his competition gave him a slight edge that eclipsed 99% of the best players in the world. There was only one that could compete with Bird, the 1% er himself, Magic Johnson.
Magic, was the opposite from Bird with his temperament in tune with his gregarious nature, and his approach to the game didn't deviate from his persona. Magic was the revolutionizing 6'8 point guard that led a exciting up tempo offense that earned the name show time. Similar to the offense, Magic was flashy and flamboyantly brilliant. Magic was out going and loved people. My theory is his love for the game and to be the man motivated him to succeed. Magic knew that in order for him to be successful against Bird he needed to be fully committed to the game of basketball.
I like to think in order to respect someone as competition you have to walk the line carefully, between love and hate. In the Art of War, the writer talks about having respect for your enemy and the decorum to approaching war. Animosity is a emotional sign of weakness and can breed dissension and incongruity between masses, with that being said you lose a connection with your enemy thus losing the ability to know what's coming. I think Magic was well aware that the best thing he could do was have a love/hate relationship with his opponents. Magic was nasty on the basketball court, but off the floor he love people and being the man. Bird mentioned Magic's ability to charm people and light up a room, he even called Magic a con artist. Magic mastered the delicate balance more then anything else. Magic excelled when the odds were great and the stakes was high. He loved competing against the best and Bird was the closest thing to him.
In heated debates between peers on who is the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T) in basketball, I don't believe we should focus solely on the physical, because at the highest level the physical margin of separation is small. I think a mixture of skill, and approach to the game and the courage to see that approach through determines the legend. That, and championships! This is Benson Callier ProWings Journal Owt!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

interview with

02-20-2010 | 04:00 PM


Recently I was fortunate enough to have a few phone conversations with a player named Benson Callier who plays semi-professionally in Vermont. I thought it would be interesting for two reasons. First, he crossed paths with LeBron James back in 2002 when he blocked him a few times and led his team to an OT victory over St V St Mary's, winning MVP honors that game.

I also thought it would be interesting to see what the lifestyle is like for someone who depends on the basketball court to support his family. Every interview with a basketball player seems to be about the glamorous lifestyle of the NBA. I figured it'd be interesting to look at a Bull Durham situation in basketball, trying to climb the minor league rungs.

Anyway, just as a brief background, Callier played college ball at Florida State and then Western Kentucky with Courtney Lee before playing for several semi-pro teams in the PBL, IBL, CBA, and Swedish league. He was named one of the top 25 players not in the NBA (eligible players drawn from pools in the DLeague, PBL, IBL, and other leagues).

So here's the resulting interview... Click on the title to see the full text with embedded links, pictures, and more.

⁠From Blocking LeBron James to Playing in Vermont and Everything in Between.⁠


Benson Callier started out his basketball career in western Pennsylvania at George Junior Republic High School. After playing organized basketball for only one year, Callier graduated from George Junior and accepted a scholarship at Florida State University. Callier decided to transfer to Western Kentucky University after two seasons with the Seminoles. As a Hilltopper, he averaged 8.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 18.5 minutes per game over two seasons.

Since graduating from Western Kentucky, Benson Callier has played professionally for several teams. He started out in the CBA with the Butte Daredevils, moved to the IBL with the Gary Steelheads, and traveled to Sweden to play for Gothia Basket before finding a home in the PBL with the Vermont Frostheaves, where he currently plays after leading the team in scoring last season with 16.4 points per game. After last season, Callier was listed as one of the top 25 basketball players not in the NBA by Pro Basketball News. He was invited to tryouts for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Developmental League this offseason, but was unable to participate due to injury.

I figured Benson Callier would be a great player to interview for Numbers Don’t as he crossed paths with LeBron James in high school. During Callier’s senior year, his high school team, George Junior Republic, defeated the Irish led by LeBron James. Callier recorded 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals, earning him MVP honors for the game.

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak with Benson Callier regarding this game, his persistence, what he has learned, and what it’s like to play basketball for a living. Here is the resulting interview.

Mark Cameron: Okay, I’ve gotta bring it up. It was a while ago, but describe to our readers what it felt like blocking LeBron James and leading your George Junior Republic Tigers to victory over the nationally ranked Irish from St. Vincent-St. Mary’s back in 2002.

Benson Callier: I don’t want to be that guy, where I’m known because I played a game against the great LeBron James. Honestly, I didn’t know who he was at the time of the game since I had only played one year of organized basketball. Now knowing who he is today I’m happy looking back. I watched the film of that game about a year ago and I saw the greatness everyone talks about that I didn’t recognize then.

MC: You said a few days ago in a blog post that when you looked into the eyes of LeBron James before that game started that you saw a lion. Are you surprised at where he is today?

BC: No, not at all. When he looked at me I just saw a look I’ve never seen before. A lot of guys you can tell what they’re trying to do when they look at you, whether it’s intimidation or whatever. But you could tell there was no b.s. with him. He is the truth.

MC: I also noticed that this memory sparked some recent discussion, where you felt a blogger was disrespecting you by implying that this block may have been the peak of your career. What would you have to say to anyone who feels this way?

BC: I mean, of course [they think that] because he’s so great. Honestly, just talking about one block against a player makes me happy because that’s what I’m all about. Just going out and competing. I’ve never been the type to just talk about it, I let them do the talking. But I’m thankful for the opportunity and know I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at in my career today without that game.

MC: There’s a guy on the Cavaliers by the name of Jamario Moon who has played for 19 different basketball teams after college, making three separate D-League teams only to be released by all three. Do stories of players like Moon eventually breaking through and having success drive you to never give up?

BC: I actually played for a coach that coached Moon (author’s note: Callier played for the Gary Steelheads in 2008, one year after Moon played for them), so I was big on Moon when he first got into the league. Mo Williams is also a success story. You’ve got a lot of guys like that that make the most of an opportunity. So yeah, he is somebody I look at and want to be as successful as he has.

MC: Moon tells a story of how his agent made several calls to NBA scouts and general managers to find out why he wasn’t in the league and the unanimous answer was “defense.” With this in mind, Moon recommitted himself to the defense end of the floor in order to get into the NBA. With a history of undrafted ballers carving out a niche on the defensive end such as Ben Wallace, Bruce Bowen, and Raja Bell, what do you feel your biggest defensive weakness is?

BC: I hate to say it… but I’d have to say none. As long as you go as hard as you can for as long as you can, I think you’re playing your best defense. I can’t put in what God didn’t add. I may not be as gifted as LeBron, but as long as I work as hard as I can, stay focused mentally, and stay in front of my man, I feel I’m doing the most I can on defense. I think it’s just important to cut out all the mental errors on the defensive end.

MC: One of the things I’ve never really liked about the D-League is it’s propensity to promote un-team-like behavior. With your journey, you never know what roster you’ll find yourself on next season. Does this make it hard to establish a close relationship with your teammates or develop chemistry with them?

BC: No, not really. As a basketball player who has played under great coaches like Leonard Hamilton (Florida State) and Coach [Darrin] Horn (WKU, now South Carolina), I’ve learned a lot about offense and playing off of teammates. I feel like now I can go into any experience and pick up quick. Under these coaches I’ve learned certain things and have grown into a great pro. Not a pro [laughs] like I’m a [NBA] professional, but I approach the game as a pro.

MC: Where do you think your most important stop as a player was? Where did you learn the most about basketball and what did you learn?

BC: Well… it would probably where my biggest downfall was, which was at Western Kentucky. I didn’t finish my final season there, because they said I chose not too, but I learned a lot from what happened there. At that point I took my future into my own hands. I had to become a man. Because of this I was thrown into the real world and made something out of it. I felt it made me a better person and a better man as a result.

MC: I think when most fans hear the words “professional basketball player” they think of stars making millions a year for seasonal work. As you said on your blog, “I’m just working to keep the lights on and provide for my family the best way I know how.” How do you think you view basketball, the work that helps you support yourself and your family, differently than someone in the NBA?

BC: Those guys get exposure on a serious level. Me? It’s a struggle… everyday. I understand it’s a struggle and an everyday grind for them, too, but they have assistance. And I’m not knocking them, they earn every penny they get. I’m not taking anything away from them, but they have the resources around them. And I love the NBA game and follow it on television as much as possible. That’s basketball at its highest level and I want to get there someday too. But here, I have to deal with stuff that they don’t have to on that level.

I just take what I’ve got and make the most of it. I like to do camps for the kids that can’t afford them, community service, and try and do as much as I can. My life is cool. It might not be as flashy as [the life of] someone in the NBA, but I like it.

MC: Prior to this season you had an invite to tryout for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA’s D-League but could only participate briefly due to injuries. What was it like to be so close and have it all sidetracked because of injuries?

BC: Ah, man, it was a tough time. I’ve had a lot of adversity in my life, but never have I had my body let me down. And I couldn’t afford the treatment to get back and play, so once again I had to grab the bootstraps and do it myself. I’m better now and I feel like I could go back [to tryout], but at this point Vermont is what’s best for me. We have the chance to win a championship, which I haven’t had at any level in my career. That’s a big deal for me.

MC: You played at Florida State with Al Thornton and Von Wafer and then spent two seasons at Western Kentucky with Courtney Lee, all of whom are either currently in the NBA or have played in the league. Do you stay in contact with any of them?

BC: Those guys are in the NBA where it’s an everyday grind and I understand they’re busy. I don’t want to be the token guy just to stay in contact every day. I actually visited Courtney Lee before the Finals and it was a great time. It was unfortunate that he was traded, but he’s a great player. I love him to death and I’d do anything for him. I was never really that close with Von, but I still talk to guys like Al Thornton and Lee. But I don’t call them unless I have to.

MC: For anyone unfamiliar with the player, why would first time fans enjoy seeing Benson Callier play?

BC: Ah. Well, at this point I have a passion for the game that goes along with my work ethic to just try to win games. I go out to try and win, play hard, and every now and then, you’ll see a nice move from me… maybe a dunk or something. But I just try and do whatever my team needs to win. I’d say the thing to enjoy the most would be my leadership on and off the court.

MC: Anything else to add?

BC: Not really, I’d just like to thank you for the opportunity. I’m very grateful. I mentioned I host a basketball camp now every summer for the kids and I was trying to get an NBA player to come and talk with them for this upcoming summer. I’d like to have LeBron James come out but I don’t know if he can [laughs]. But yeah, nothing too time consuming, just someone to come out and talk to the kids. I think they’d like that.

You can follow Benson on his blog at ⁠⁠