FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Harlem Globetrotters Shane “Scooter” Christensen and
Jermaine “Stretch” Middleton taught and encouraged about 100 boys and girls from
military families, ages 6-14, with dribbling, passing and shooting skills
during an Aug. 19 basketball camp held at the Robert G. Cole High School on
Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Ball handling tricks, teamwork, smiles, cheers and lots of clapping
were included in on- and off-court lessons and games.
Camp activities started with coaches putting their teams
through drills getting the youth to move the ball around the court while
keeping it out of the hands of opposing players. After the practice drills,
each child took a turn at putting the ball into the bucket with the aim of
scoring higher than the opposing Globetrotters.
Neither Christensen, a 6-foot 1-inch tall player, or
Middleton, at 7-foot 4-inches, had any trouble scoring baskets. But many of the
children were able to drop the ball into the bucket easily, though all were, at
most, one-third the size of the Globetrotters players.
Four-year-old Roxanne Ajel got a lesson on spinning a
basketball balanced on her forefinger from Christenson.
“She likes to play sports and wants to do the same things
her older siblings are doing,” said her mom, Chandra. “It’s very special for
her – she’s having so much fun here.”
“Having an opportunity like this makes a huge difference for
these kids,” said Roxanne’s dad, Navy Chief Ferdinand “A.J.” Ajel, a corpsman
on recruiting duty with the Navy Recruiting District San Antonio.
“It gives us a chance to and appreciation for being together
with our kids,” Ajel said. “There are a lot of dependent spouses here because
their husbands, mothers or wives are deployed around the world, so getting the
word out about this event brings a lot of happiness to the families.”
“It’s awesome,” said Simone Larson, whose child, Charlotte,
attended camp. “It’s a nice distraction – less crying and more fun.”
Larson’s husband, 1st Sgt. David Larson is with Company C,
Wounded Warrior Battalion.
“We get to interact with the kids,” said Christensen after
signing a basketball for Simone Larson.
“When people come to see our games, they never remember the
score but always remember the laughter, smiling and having fun,” explained
10-year Globetrotters veteran Christensen. What you see on the court is only a
small percentage of what we do off the court.”
What is so special about this team is that we do a lot of
interaction with fans,” said five-year Globetrotters veteran Middleton, “and I
get the chance to display my comedic side.”
The Harlem Globetrotters is an exhibition basketball team
that travels to various countries around the world sharing their athleticism
combined with a bit of theatrical comedy. Many of their programs are aimed at
enriching children’s lives such as the camp at Cole High School.
“We were excited to be nominated to come here,” Christensen
said, “and interact with these kids. It’s unbelievable to see their faces light
up – that’s what it’s all about.”