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Slamtastic Scholarship Fund

Biennial hoops game a success

On Saturday, Feb. 1, Garden City elementary and primary school students were treated to an exciting basketball exhibition between some of their very own teachers and the slamtastic Harlem Wizards. The semi-annual matchup was held in the Garden City High School gymnasium and benefited the Garden City Scholarship Fund.

After a close game filled with everything from slam-dunks to a Harlem Shake video, the Wizards came away with a victory over the teachers with a final score of 95 to 91.  

The game was a big event for the community, and a lot of fun for everyone involved, not just the students. The Wizards themselves love getting to give back and play against the faculty.  

“We get to beat up on some teachers and some principals for sending us to detention all those years ago,” says LaMarvon “Mr. 540” Jackson, who spent some time before the game working the merchandise table and taking pictures with kids.  

Jackson says he’s seen it all while playing for the Wizards: people shooting in the wrong hoop, 60 and 70 year-olds suiting up to play, even some teachers who’ve never held a basketball before.  

“You just never know what you’re going to get at a Wizards game,” he says.    

That statement sums up the game perfectly. The Wizards kept things lively, with a close score all the way up until the game’s final moments. And there were plenty of madcap antics along the way to keep the kids entertained.  

Besides all the alley-oops and dunking, there was lots of audience involvement too. One game mom from the crowd had to dance her way back to a stolen purse. A teacher was made to take a foul shot with his shorts pulled up to his chest. And a few lucky kids were selected to participate in games for prizes in between quarters.   

All of the teachers were treated to some new nicknames courtesy of the commentator. These ranged from “Air Mommy” to “Mr. Clean” to “Joe Pesci” and were a hit with the kids as well. All the students in attendance were also invited to join in a massive game of Simon Says and participate in a “Harlem Shake” video before the last quarter.  

Eric “Broadway” Jones offered the teachers several chances to catch up by bumping their score to 55 at the start of the second half, giving them a ten-point lead, as well as occasionally changing the value of the teachers’ baskets to five or seven points. It was all to no avail however, and the Wizards came out on top.

High school principal Nanine McLaughlin says that in the past as much as $15,000 in scholarships has gone out to graduating seniors.  The Wizards basketball games, held every two years, are a great fundraiser for the Scholarship Fund. Parents and students alike volunteer at concession stands and selling raffle tickets.

“It’s a great organization, everyone is a volunteer and they work really hard,” McLaughlin says.

Boy Scout Troop 55 also assisted by collecting tickets and stamping hands at the gymnasium’s doors. They have a history of volunteering at the Wizards games for community service, and Scoutmaster John O’Hare says the kids love it.  

“I think it’s awesome the way the teachers get beat by the Wizards,” O’Hare joked.    

The event was sponsored by Garden City Pizza, Sports Loft, and D and J Refreshments.      

The money raised goes primarily to club scholarships. Advisors nominate an outstanding senior for their contributions to the club.  There is also an “Unsung Hero” scholarship that involves a student nominating one of their classmates and writing an essay about their accomplishments. If selected for the scholarship, both students receive aid.  

Art Ciccone, president of the Scholarship Fund, says that it all started with a donation made by the late Julia Maloney, who served the community as an elementary school teacher in Garden City for 47 years.       

The Wizards expect to play more than 300 games this season and anticipate raising in excess of $1 million for various causes by squaring off against teachers, coaches, and community leaders around the country.