Camden Courier-Post * February 15, 2007
Still gives back to Camden youth
By KEVIN CALLAHAN
Valerie Still seemingly has done it all since leaving South Jersey almost three decades ago.
The former basketball star at Camden and Cherry Hill East high schools set collegiate scoring and rebounding records. She played and coached pro basketball. She is an owner and CEO of a company.
She is an experienced television actress. She is an international fashion model and motivational speaker. She is a concert pianist, as well as a jazz, gospel and pop artist. She is a mother and wife.
Still is also the founder and president of the Valerie Still Foundation. And that is where she is hoping to make her greatest impression on people and impact on life.
"I just believe to be the greatest, you have to be a servant, and that is what I really am," said Still, who was back in South Jersey recently to be inducted into the Al Carino Basketball Club of South Jersey Hall of Fame. "It is, "What can I give back?' "
Still, 45, said she wasn't always that way.
"It is hard being an athlete and being selfless," Still said. "It took me time."
Still lives in Powell, Ohio, a town outside of Columbus, with her husband, Rob Lock, and 11-year-old son Aaron. She is truly a role model.
Through her foundation, which is a non-profit organization started in 1998, she is dedicated to nurturing the lives of young girls through what she believes are innovative programs designed to build self awareness and self esteem.
Part of the program is reaching back to South Jersey.
"We are bringing a group of kids from Camden to Columbus each summer," Still said about the Camquest program. "We are trying to expose them to all opportunities. I want to give back to Camden. I've been gone so long."
Still hopes to develop the scholastic, artistic and athletic potential of girls who participate in the programs. Her parents, James and Gwendolyn, raised her and her nine brothers and sisters to be well-rounded.
"All the programs are free of charge," Still said. "When I was younger, I never had the opportunity to do the things we are trying to provide to these kids."
Still is reaching back to help others despite her busy schedule, which includes being the owner and CEO of Waldo Wrights Flying Services, a business that provides scenic plane rides.
She is also finding time somehow to write a children's book series. The planned 20-book series is about her historic family, which includes Dr. James Still, who was the "Black Doctor of the Pines" and one of the largest landowners in Medford; as well as James Thomas Still, who was one of the first black men to graduate from Harvard Medical School; and William Still, who was an activist and author of The Underground Railroad.
Still, who attends Ohio State as she works on a master's degree in African American and African Studies, is also working in Columbus through her foundation to use outside basketball courts to tie in with after-school programs.
"We got so far away from the holistic way of letting kids play outside and have fun," Still said. "I remember after school going to the courts in Camden."
Still played at the courts on Phillip and Ferry avenues in Camden. She would play against Camden High School greats Milt Wagner and Billy Thompson.
She also got great competition at home. Her brothers, James, Wendell and Dennis, all played college basketball. Meanwhile, her brother, Art, played football at Kentucky and went on to a Pro Bowl career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Still graduated from Cherry Hill East (1978-79) after playing three years for Camden. As a senior, the 6-foot-1 Still averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds. She led the South team in a New Jersey All-Star Game over the North team that featured 6-foot-8 Ann Donovan.
She went on to the University of Kentucky where she finished her career as Kentucky's all-time leading scorer and rebounder -- male or female.
Still then played 16 years of professional basketball, including 12 years in Italy where she became a TV actress and hosted her own show.
She came back to the United States to play pro ball and was twice named MVP in the championship series for the Columbus Quest that won back-to-back American Basketball League titles in 1997 and 1998. The following year, she played for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.
Still stayed in the pro game as an assistant coach of the WNBA's Washington Mystics in 2001 and Orlando Miracle in 2002. She left though and pursued her dreams of helping others.
"I wasn't really getting anything out of it," said Still about coaching.
She stays in touch with the game as a radio commentator for the Columbus Quest.
What Still is getting most out of life now is giving back.
"The important thing is," Still said, "is to try and get people involved.".
School: Camden (1975-1978) and Cherry Hill East (1979).
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