Yes 6:30 AM was the time we needed our young men to show up so we could play our first game at 8 AM. Guess what? We had 12 young men headed to Independence that morning and little did we know what a special day and weekend it would turn out to be!
This is one of our core values. Many times, urban youth quit when things get difficult. We spell this core value out at practice. We emphasize it every practice, game, and time we meet. Why? This core value will help indicate the future success of any person.
This weekend our young men persevered through all of our games:
SECOND GAME: We were down 10 before half. Michael Brown hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to put us down 7. Then we adjusted our zone, and our young men dominated the game, winning by 10. You could see the belief and confidence in our young men's faces as we played slowly made the other team crumble.
THIRD GAME: We dominated the entire game and won by 20.
FOURTH GAME (CHAMPIONSHIP): We persevered through the entire game and didn't give up. It was fun to see them play so hard even though they lost. Our young men took 2nd place beating every team in the tournament except for the champions. We had nothing but praises for our young men as this was the best tournament in our two years. They played with heart, showed their character throughout the entire tournament, and lastly they played with perseverance.
Great job Ballin' Bears!
This summer we brought seven young men and three coaches down to Kids Across America camp, affiliated with Kanakuk Kamps. Kids Across America is led by all African-American leadership and by intentional and Spirit-filled college counselors who desperately want to see our urban young men come to know Christ. Our young men interacted with other campers from Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and other urban areas.
The entire week is hyped, loud, and crazy fun for our young men. As the young men ran around camp, the coaches had the opportunity to connect with other urban leaders, spend quiet moments with Christ, and even participate in a gospel choir!
The highlight of the week was seeing four of our young men profess faith in Christ. They walked away different men. You could see it in their faces. Now we have young men reading the Proverb of the day, Romans, and even Genesis.
We even have two young men who want to attend Higher Ground which is a three-year discipleship program: In Year 1 they learn how to study the Bible and do missions. In Year 2 they participate in a short-term missions project at an urban area, and in Year 3 they perform a short-term missions project overseas. Wouldn't it be great to have our kids do this?
Thank you for all of you supporting and praying for our ministry! Without you, this would not have been possible. It is fun to see God grip hearts for Christ after we have been praying for some of these young men for two and a half years.
Please pray for volunteers who would 1-on-1 disciple our young men, a hunger for Gods' Word, and continued fruit in their lives.
This past weekend we competed at the Agape Hoops Swish N' Dish tournament in Lawrence, Kan. We won our first game on Saturday 61-20. After the game we enjoyed the hospitality of the Weatherford family at their farm outside of Lawrence. We ate barbecue and spent time with their family before heading home for the night.
On Sunday, we had two tough losses to start the day. losing 68-45 and 41-35, but bounced back to win our final game 45-21.
We'll return to the court this weekend at the USSA July Hoopfest at the KC Sports Lodge in Independence. The schedule is here.
We had our fifth job shadow this summer at Roe Body Shop. Paul Gustafson, Jerry Sosebee, and Carl helped Isaiah Williams and Kendrick Boggs understand about careers as auto mechanics.
Jerry showed us both the body work and mechanical side of Roe Body. After that, Coach Michael Loney let Roe Body and Carl change his oil. The boys loved learning from Carl. Isaiah even helped Carl as he found a screw in Coach Michael's tire.
Thank you Paul and the rest of the crew at Roe Body!
On July 1, we had four young men tour the Microsoft store at Oak Park Mall. Matt Streeter arranged the meeting, Lindsey Huckeby coordinated it, and Erik shared how Microsoft's goal is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.
Erik showed us the store, shared Microsoft's business plan, answered all of our questions, and even let us play Xbox for a break! As you can imagine, the four young men loved the hands-on experience and learning from a guy who stressed that it is not where you come from, but the hard work and excellence you put forth in every day! We loved it!
Thank you Matt, Lindsey, Erik, and the whole Microsoft team!
Two of our players helped at the Redeemer Fellowship Summer Sports Camp this past week. They had fun instructing the kids in fundamentals, sportsmanship, and how to enjoy the game of basketball!
John Goodwin of Northwestern Mutual spent two hours on Tuesday showing our young men how to start a business, the importance of character in the business world as a Christian, and how he serves his clients at Northwestern Mutual. He gave our young men some souvenirs, pop, and candy which our guys loved!
He graciously let his office professionals Barb Shuck and Cathy Campbell help teach the importance of good first impressions, caring and listening to clients, and how to run a business.
Our young men walked away with another valuable business job shadow and better understand now how to plan for financial security.
Several of our young men have expressed interest in construction as a future career area.
Troy Paul of Next Generation Construction offered to give us a job shadow at an apartment complex renovation project in Kansas City, Mo., even with major deadlines approaching.
He shared his background in construction, how to pursue a career in construction, and how his faith in Christ influences every decision he makes at work.
Our young men loved greatly appreciated this opportunity and afterwards spent some time at McDonald's journaling and discussing this great experience.
Thank you Troy and Next Generation Construction!
Thank you to Freedom Hoops supporter Matt Streeter for inviting several of our guys to job shadow today at Microsoft!
Our kids could not stop smiling during and after the visit because of the Microsoft employees who gave their time to explain how to succeed in the business world.
Afterwards, each young man was motivated to create a plan to pursue the education and training needed to be a successful businessman in the future.
They took time to journal about their experience before heading home.
To kick off the season, we took our team to Mason City, Iowa for a tournament this past weekend. Coach Michael Loney's old college teammate Garrett Callahan of Ambush Basketball invited the team to come participate in a tournament he hosted at North Iowa Area Community College.
We first made a stop in Coach Michael's hometown of Humboldt, Iowa on Friday night. Leon and Sandy Loney (Michael's mom and dad) graciously hosted us, fed us well, and even gas us some jackets...it was 75 degrees when we left Kansas City and 45 degrees in Humboldt when we arrived!
We traveled to Mason City the following morning. To cover the registration cost, the team ran the tournament concession stand on Saturday.
We competed in four games over the course of the weekend, fighting hard in all of the games. Our first game we came from behind, made a layup as time expired to go into overtime, and won in overtime! It was a great way to start the season and see our young men fight through adversity.
The tournament organizers hosted a party on Saturday night at a local bowling alley.
Special thanks to Garrett Callahan and Ambush Basketball for inviting us to participate in the tournament!