My friend Wayland has been talking about Jammin’ Hoops Fest for a few years now. I’m all for it, but I hadn’t showed up.
Wayland is a police officer and a friend of mine. He’s been working on a division in the police department that’s more community involvement than arresting people. He’s loving the people and neighborhoods. He’s especially working on knowing, mentoring and loving kids. He’s a part of a group of men that meet for breakfast once a month to talk about what’s going on in our city, especially in regards to the racial climate and working on reconciliation, forgiveness, friendship and next steps. He attends one of the churches we’re partnering with. He’s spoken at City Pres a few times.
Yeah, I needed to go, but I’ve got my excuses! It’s hot! I’m tired at 5:30pm. I don’t know anyone.
So last week I thought I’d stop by, fist pump my man Wayland to give him some props, and then take off. I’d scope it out for next week.
I forgot that a bunch of the members of my church would be there. I forgot that one of our CityGroups painted the court for the basketball games. I forgot that they’d need me to coach a team.
So I was sucked in. There were 250 or so people there. The kids were divided into older and younger groups – 13 and up, 12 and under. I stayed with the smaller ones. We had 50 kids or so. 10 teams with 5 kids on each. Each game only lasted 3 minutes. My job was to learn the kids’ names and try to keep them somewhat together. I had Ally, Nathan, Christopher, Jevon and Marcus – and then kids floated in and out.
Before we started my friend Earnest shared a brief word about loving your neighborhood and making good choices. The music, hot dogs, snow cones and popcorn helped make it a party. Afterwards, they handed out awards for the best attitudes and team spirit and then held a drawing for brand new bikes and a pair of KDs. Wayland lost a Running Man dance contest, but he was close.
I was exhausted. My coaching expertise was found wanting. I made new friends. I supported my friend Wayland, the members of our church, the police and the other volunteers, but most of all the kids who showed up on a hot Thursday night to do something fun in their neighborhood. Showing up felt good. Tired. Hungry. Suspicious. Full. At rest. Glad-hearted.
See you on Thursdays in the summer. 5:30-8pm. 1220 NE 33rd Street, OKC