Davin White, Athletic Director for the Natchitoches Recreation and Parks Department, presented 14-year-old Jaylon Braxton with a Volunteer Services in 2017 City League Basketball Award recognizing the time he’s put into refereeing basketball games.
Jaylon is the son of Ruby Braxton and the late Coach Mack Braxton, who coached the Lakeview High School Basketball Team. Jaylon is an eighth grader at Natchitoches Jr. High where he is a straight A student. Last year he went to the Junior Olympics.
While his talent lies in track and field, particularly the triple and long jump, Jaylon felt like something was missing. His father passed when he was 4-years-old and growing up, everyone recognized his father’s name as a Natchitoches legend. Ruby said Jaylon always felt like he was missing something because he couldn’t remember his dad as everyone else does.
Jr. High Basketball Coach Corey Dean took Jaylon under his wing, as Coach Mack had done with him years ago. “That’s why Jaylon is in the position he is in his life,” said Ruby.
While Jaylon is too young for an official job, he volunteers his time as a referee at the Recreation Department where he’s participated in sports programs for the past 8-9 years.
“Every Saturday he wakes himself up to get ready to go to the gym,” said Ruby. “He’s dedicated and passionate about what he’s doing and I’m thankful for Davin for giving him a chance.”
Davin is just happy to have Jaylon involved at the Recreation Department. “He’s a quiet, smart kid who has a great personality,” he said. “He came in at a young age and took the training seriously.”
While Jaylon knew he wouldn’t be pursuing basketball professionally, he found refereeing as a way to honor his father by being involved in a sport he loved. He underwent two weeks of referee training at the Recreation Department to study the signals and calls.
Davin says the great thing about learning how to referee is that basketball is a sport played in every town across the county. Whether its at a collegiate level or for the NBA, there will always be a job available for those who take it seriously.
“The kids can get a trade they can take with them when they leave the Recreation Department,” said Davin. “There’s a lot of kids here who play and also referee.”