The Wreckin’ Royals were expected to lose, and lose big they did, during an Oct. 30 fundraising basketball game against the Richmond-based Streetball Kingz at Eastern Mennonite University’s Yoder Arena. The final score was 109-78.
A crowd of about 200 enjoyed the game, cheering on both the Kingz and their opponents, a team made up of faculty, staff, alumni and students.
The event was billed as the EMU Charity Classic by the Black Student Union (BSU), which hosted the game and an after-party later that night. More than 150 tickets were sold, with the funds going towards an alternative spring break trip planned jointly by BSU, the EMU Gospel Choir, and Y-Serve.
“I really love how the game brought a lot of energy to EMU,” said sophomore Anna Messer. “It was a great time for students to get together with professors and with each other. It was a good community event for people to just let loose and have fun.”
The Streetball Kingz is a group managed by Dewey Jackson, based in Delaware. The team plays across the U.S. for community and nonprofit events. Their flashy style of play incorporates crowd-pleasing dunks, top-notch ball handling, and supreme shooting.
The fundraiser was quickly put together and gained momentum after the Streetball Kingz, just weeks before, contacted Susannah Lepley, director of multicultural and international student services, about coming to EMU since they had already played at James Madison University and Bridgewater College. Lepley passed along the idea to BSU student advisor Celeste Thomas.
“We wanted to do something that would be fun and late night so that students would have an option of doing something that’s substance free,” said Thomas. “We thought it would bring a lot of energy to the campus and it was something new. I think we did well taking a risk and trying something different.”
“It always feels good to see hard work pay off,” said BSU event coordinator Richard Robinson, “especially for an event like this that has never happened on EMU’s campus.”
The fundraiser will help defray costs of an alternative spring break civil rights experiential learning trip to Alabama and Georgia.
“Instead of going to the beach, we’ll be going to Selma, Tuskegee and Atlanta doing a civil rights tour,” said Thomas. “It’s the 51st anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, so we’ll walk across the Pettus Bridge, stop by national civil rights museums along the way, and go to some of the churches that they marched from. We’ll visit Martin Luther King Jr. father’s church, go to MLK’s church in Montgomery, and also where Rosa Parks got on the bus from her job and decided not to sit in the back of the bus.”
Team brings families and communities together
Streetball Kingz player Randy Gill, aka White Chocolate, splashed three three-pointers within the first five minutes of the game and they did not stop coming. A crowd pleaser, Gill interacted with the fans the entire time.
Following a collegiate career at Bowie State University, Gill started playing streetball and minor league basketball. He was eventually asked to play overseas, and since his return, has been playing for the Streetball Kingz.
Gill explained that the mission of his team is to support youth, and to bring families and communities together.
“It doesn’t matter if there are 20,000 people or even 100 people. We’re here to spread the love, bring the community together, and have a good time,” he said. “Whenever there’s a cause or a mission and we can help bring the people together that’s what it’s all about. We want young people to believe in themselves and let them know that they can do anything they want to if they practice their craft, whatever it may be. My mission is believe to achieve.”
More BSU events
This month, BSU will be hosting a Nov. 18 chapel with the theme of #BlackLivesMatter. On Dec. 11, BSU will be joining the Campus Activities Council to host the Presidential Ball.
“We’re expecting about 150 people for the ball,” said Thomas. “We’ve contacted a band called Ebony Blue, and that will be another large event before we leave for winter break. When we come back we’ll have a week-long celebration for MLK in January, then in February we’ll have Kwanzaa for Black History Month, and finally the trip will be in March. We’re trying to expose the campus to different things. ”
A version of this article was first printed in Nov. 5, 2015, issue of The Weather Vane.