Save Me a Spot in Heaven

A Letter From The General

The 51st Dixie Basketball Camp is dedicated to the memory of former camper Sid Ortis. The Alabama teen who succumbed to cancer this past fall was featured by Tom Rinaldi on ESPN's College GameDay.


Dear Parents and Campers,

The 50th year of the World Famous Dixie Basketball Camp and Country Club last July was amazing. Many former Dixie campers and coaches came back to Southwest CC to help us celebrate, and Dr. Steve Bishop, President of SMCC, gave us a plaque commemorating the 50 years, 42 years of which has been on his campus. Ron Higgins, a former Dixie camper, wrote a beautiful article, in the New Orleans Times Picayune, telling the story of the General and his stamp on our camp the past 50 years. It was a fun summer.

My late father, Joe Dean, Sr., would have enjoyed the celebration last summer. He started directing this legendary camp in 1966 and put his own stamp of discipline, enthusiasm, and spirit on a camp experience that he hoped would inspire young boys to work harder to be the very best they could be. We still run Dixie the exact same way the original General did 50 years ago. Yes, we’re old school, but as our current Dixie campers know, “old school is cool”.

After Dixie ended last summer, I went back to Birmingham and took some time one day in August to go visit Sid Ortis. Sid attended the Dixie Basketball Camp for three summers and was a 16-year student at Mountain Brook High School. Sid was diagnosed with bone cancer in August of 2014, and his story of faith and courage captured the hearts of people all over the south. Les Miles invited Sid to sit in his box for an LSU football game in September, as the Ortis family are loyal Tiger fans.

On October 31, 2015, Sid Ortis went to be with the Lord in Heaven. Before he died, his mom, Lynn, asked him to send her a sign from Heaven that he was OK. Sid told her he would send lady bugs. On Sunday, November 1st, the day after Sid passed away, his parents, Lynn and Scott Ortis, attended church, and to their amazement, the church staff was complaining of annoying creatures that were crawling across the projector in the sanctuary – LADY BUGS!!

This summer, the Dixie Basketball Camp will be dedicated to the memory of Sid Ortis. On the front of the Dixie camp t-shirts will be the “Sid Strong” symbol, which became a symbol of support for Sid during his ordeal. I plan to use Sid’s incredible story of faith, courage, and determination to inspire all of us. Since Sid was a huge LSU fan, the shirts, this summer for the first time ever, will be in Purple and Gold.

So, for the 51st summer, let me invite you to be a part of a legendary basketball camp experience, one stocked full of inspiring stories, excessive enthusiasm, and old school discipline and work ethic. It will again be a week you will never forget. See you in July.


Joe Dean Jr.
Camp Director (General II)
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