Fly high young man, His time is right

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Travion Kirkendoll of Campti flies to the goal during a summer open run at Calvary Baptist.

His timing is perfect.

We’ve heard that, and we’ve all witnessed it in some form or another. Sometimes, we see it in little things and other times in life changing events. A recent message asking for more information for a photo turned into a testimony of just how perfect His timing can be. That simple request for information opened the doors for this story. It involves a small town boy, an old photo, an education, career changes, an email, a phone call, tryouts and ultimately, realization of a dream a young man didn’t even realize he had.

This article published in the Dec. 18, 2021, print edition
Motel 6

A search through the Times archives for a photo to use in the “Thanks for the Memories” photo feature ended with a basketball player. Former Lakeview standout Travion Kirkendoll’s photo showed him in his sophomore year with the Centenary Gents. It’s good to see a young athlete doing well after high school so I thought I’d follow up to see where he is today.

Kirkendoll’s school photo as assistant men’s basketball coach at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.

First and foremost, Kirkendoll has a solid foundation, a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master’s degree in business administration. He also just signed a contract to play with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Yes, there’s that!

He leaves Christmas Day on his first tour. How does a kid from Campti wind up on the most famous, acclaimed and highly talented basketball team in the world?

That’s where His timing comes in. From his years at Lakeview under Coach Joshua Hancock, who was instrumental in advising Kirkendoll to follow his heart and play ball for the college that felt right to him, to his years as a Gent under Coach Chris Dorsey, he excelled at the game. He ended his career at centenary with 1,922 points scored then played professionally in Saudi Arabia, an experience he said made him happy to feel US soil under his feet again.

It’s a slam dunk for Kirkendoll at this summer open run at Calvary Baptist. See the picture that was timed just right to bring this story together in our “Thanks for the Memories” photo feature on page 4A Courtesy photo

He then served as assistant coach for a season at Centenary and moved on to a position as assistant coach for two seasons at Shenandoah University under Coach Adam Walsh in Winchester, Va. He said he also had an opportunity to play in Mexico that was sidelined by Covid.

“It was going well at Shenandoah,” Kirkendoll said. “Then I saw an email.” He said he had hundreds of emails backlogged on his account and was cleaning them out one day about two months ago. “I was just deleting, deleting, then on the next row, I saw something from the Globetrotters. I thought, ‘is this for real?’ but I checked it out. On that same day (timing yet again), a guy I became friends with over a game of horse years ago called me. He’s now a Globetrotter. He told me to fly out to Atlanta, Ga., for tryouts Nov. 15. I thought, ‘is this really happening?”

Travion Kirkendoll, white jersey, in action with the Al Hilal Club in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy photo

Kirkendoll said he was starstruck, and rightly so, when he arrived and saw the likes of Sweet Lou Dunbar, Big Easy and others. He made the cut and signed his contract to play on one of the three Globetrotter teams that constantly tour the US. His tour will take him to the east coast and the southern states. He had the right people in his corner at the right time.

From his parents, LaQuan and Clifton Jones Sr. to Coach Hancock in his high school years to the opportunity he has before him, it’s all timing.

“Coach Hancock was close to my family. He was real big on the mental side of things and told me to follow my heart and just pray on it,” Kirkendoll said. He just returned from training camp in Atlanta last Monday. “I thought I worked hard before, in college and Saudi Arabia, but this is another level. Really, nothing relates to it. There is so much that goes on, so much practice, time and work,” he said of the elite team that makes the sport of basketball seem effortless before every crowd. “It’s nonstop from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.”

He is grateful for the opportunity and eager to begin this journey. He never thought he’d end up, at only 25, as a Globetrotter, but here he is, about to live the dream and the life God set out for him. Kirkendoll has four siblings, Nikeria, Udonis, Clifton Jr. (CJ) and Brandon Jones, all athletes in their own right, and the support of his parents and girlfriend, Blaise LaCour.

Kirkendoll wants kids to know, “Learning who you are, really about being who you are and truly understanding what that means, not being what your friends want you to be or trying to fit in. You have to have passion and a purpose that is the best for you. It’s simple…be true to yourself, your goals, and keep prayer in everything.”

Of his opportunities in life, he had but one thing to say, “Nothing but God Himself made this possible.”