Kids ‘hoopin’ ’ it up
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent November 29, 2012 3:22PM
Adoree Adkisson, 11, (front) cheers during a game in the Gary (Ind.) Community School Corp.'s annual Basketball Jamboree at West Side Leadership Academy on Nov.17, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
It’s not every day that middle school and high school students can be mentors, and in a most unusual, fun way to boot.
Such was the case recently when students from elementary school to high school played in the Gary Community School Corp.’s annual Basketball Jamboree at West Side Leadership Academy.
“I started this event back in the 1980s,” said city Athletic Director Earl Smith Jr. “It was a way to get all the kids involved and help them prepare for the future.”
He added that the middle and high school players also act as mentors for the elementary students. Indeed, the elementary coaches suggested that players stay after their games to watch and learn from the older players.
Middle school student D’shaun Lanear, 13, was glad he and his teammates could mentor the younger players. In turn, he also enjoyed their games.
“It’s great to watch the little kids having so much fun,” Lanear said. “And they’re also learning the importance of teamwork.”
The GCSC kept up the tradition by making it an annual event that has become very popular. The elementary schools were added to the mix five years ago.
“This gives the players confidence to see people cheering them on, especially the younger ones,” said Gary schools sports medicine tech Freida Green as she watched the large crowd streaming in the West Side gym. “And participation gives them the basic fundamentals of how sports teams work.”
Eleven-year-old Michael Worthy’s mother, Victoria, agreed as she watched her son playing on the Lighthouse team.
“He was so excited to play in this game; he’s very interested in basketball,” she said. “It gives him a chance to work with his teammates and also to meet kids from the other schools.”
With the elementary schools taking the floor for the first game of the morning, families, friends students and others gave their rapt attention.
“I don’t have kids in school anymore, but I ... keep up with Gary sports,” said James White of Hammond. “When we lived in Gary, I went to all the basketball games — even the ones my son wasn’t playing in. He went with me, too; I think he wanted to see if there was something he could take back to his team.”
Boys and girls teams from each school competed in the event. Elementary school participants were Williams, Jefferson, Banneker, Brunswick, Aspire, Bailly, Glen Park Academy, Marquette, Lighthouse 1, Lighthouse 2, and McCullough; middle school teams were Roosevelt, Wallace, West Side, Pulaski, Dunes, Lead, Wirt-Emerson, Lighthouse 1, Lighthouse 2, Aspire, 21st Century, Embassies, Banneker, Pulaski and McCullough; and high schools were 21st Century, Roosevelt, Wallace, West Side and Michigan City.