Lifelong bonds formed with the Valley High basketball team, solidified by law enforcement

Steve marcus

Shea Garland-Stewart, second from left, poses with former Valley High basketball players and former head coach following a graduation ceremony for Metropolitan Police Correctional Officers at the Orleans Thursday, May 27, 2021. Left to right: Charles Jackson Jr., a player and later an assistant coach, Garland-Stewart, former Valley High basketball head coach Brian Farnsworth (2002 to 2015) and Nick Brannon. Jackson and Brannon are correctional officers for the town of Henderson.

Shea Garland-Stewart beamed as he picked up his diploma at the recent Metropolitan Police Correctional Officer graduation ceremony.

The smile of the mentor who pinned a badge on Garland-Stewart was equally broad. A big hug followed.

Garland-Stewart, 24, was the fourth Valley High School basketball player in a tight-knit group who became a law enforcement officer in the Las Vegas area.

Listen to the four former basketball players and their coach, Brian Farnsworth, describe their relationship, and you’ll hear the words “longtime friends”, “brothers” and “family” over and over.

The man who pinned the badge is Henderson Police Correctional Officer Charles “Chuck” Jackson, 33, who played under Farnsworth and then returned to be an assistant coach on the teams when Garland-Stewart was playing. Jackson also did the pinning ceremony a few weeks earlier during the Henderson Police Academy graduation ceremony to Garland-Stewart’s teammate Officer Nicholas Brannon, 24.

Jackson’s Valley High teammate Officer Josh Rivers, 34, is a colleague at Henderson Prison.

After the correctional officer’s graduation on May 27, Garland-Stewart said his “emotions were all over the place” and he was ready to begin his new journey.
When asked what Jackson told him as they kissed, Garland-Stewart replied that he congratulated him and that he had “always been proud of me.”

Farnsworth and Brannon cheered the crowd at the Orleans.

Basketball lessons, leadership

Jackson and Rivers became friends when they were young boys. They went from athletic rivals in college to playing together in Valley under the guidance of coach Tom Farnsworth and his son, Brian Farnsworth, who was his assistant.

The Farnsworths, especially Brian, did not limit their training to basketball; they also taught young players leadership, Jackson said, noting that they helped push me “to limits where I didn’t know I could push my life.”

Jackson, who grew up with a single mother and struggling financially, welcomed the father figure, he said. While playing for Tom Farnsworth, Rivers said he learned dedication and loyalty.

“It didn’t matter where we came from, no matter how much money we had… he treated us with respect,” Rivers said. “He respected us and he always took care of everyone, not just one person. “

Brian Farnsworth, who has since left the program but still teaches at Valley and coaches track and field, said he doesn’t want to get his players’ attention.

He said he was delighted to see his former players doing something positive with the values ​​they learned on the pitch.

“It’s like my own children. I’m so proud of them, ”he said. “Being successful and seeing them succeed is the reason I entered this profession. “

The seeds of law enforcement service were planted at a young age in Valley High’s two older teammates. Jackson said he wanted to be an officer since he was a boy, while Rivers grew up with a father who was a juvenile probation officer in Clark County.

Jackson and Rivers started playing college ball and at one point went to school close to each other in Illinois. They never lost contact and talked about their future, especially the possibility of joining the police.

Brain Farnsworth continued to mentor them throughout the process.

They were talking about wanting to “help the community just like my dad did,” said Rivers, and “to be a possible example for the young people in the community.”

Rivers went to play professional basketball overseas after graduating, while Jackson, who earned a criminal justice degree, returned to Las Vegas, vying for a profession with the police.

When Jackson found out that no agency was hiring, directors at Valley High and Farnsworth recruited him to teach and assist on the basketball team. Rivers eventually made her way to her old high school playground as well.

It was there that they met Garland-Stewart and Brannon, two boys whose school background was not much different from theirs.


Garland-Stewart described “grind” workouts in the weight room and on the court, which helped shape the boys.

They’ve been taught determination, to respect each other and their opponents, not to complain about fouls during games, to never give up, and if officials call a foul, not to complain, Garland said. .

The coaches were “role models for us, always putting us on the right track,” said Brannon. “(They) were always there when we needed help with anything.”
When players were ready to plan for their college careers, the coaches were there every step of the way, Brannon said.

Thinking about what to expect after college, Garland-Stewart said he and Brannon would wonder, “What are we going to do now that we’re done with school?”

They didn’t need to look any further than Jackson, who landed a job with the Las Vegas City Public Safety Department soon after graduation. “See it in it,” Garland-Stewart said. “It really helped motivate us.

Garland-Stewart said he and Jackson suffered similar issues in their upbringing.

He noticed that Jackson’s new career had changed his life; gave it “a different shine” and financial stability, Garland-Stewart said. “He’s living his best life. That’s what I wanted.

Rivers also joined the city’s public security department. He and Jackson both joined their job in Henderson about two years ago.

Stewart-Garland, the most recent law enforcement academy graduate, said he owed his new career to his coaches. “Without them, I don’t know what I would have done.

Outside of work, former players and Brian Farnsworth are virtually inseparable.

When they’re not spending time together, reuniting their young families for barbecues and poolside parties, Brian Farnsworth and the four officers talk to each other on the phone. They have a group of text messages that serves as a kind of therapy tool. They discuss their friendship, their career and their life. Farnsworth, who is a father of four daughters, said of the four former players: “They are like my sons.”

“I could say, ‘It’s all me, it’s all me.’ I’m going to enjoy all of this success, ”Jackson said of Farnsworth and his other mentors. “But it really isn’t. It’s been a journey, and it took a village to put me in the position I am now.

About Kimberly Alley

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