(pictured above: Food from area gardens and farms fills the serving table.)
The Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball Team helped Hanes Hosiery Community Center celebrate the end of another successful youth basketball league season.
The players’ visit last Thursday was arranged by Ashley Waring of the Youth Advocacy Group, which is made up of Wake Forest Law students who take on volunteer projects that benefit youth. For almost a decade, group members have served as tutors and basketball coaches at Hanes Hosiery.
The youth basketball program – created by Hanes Hosiery Director Art Blevins – has long been a training ground for players of all skill levels. Many alumni of the program have gone on to successful high school, college and even professional basketball careers.
The most recent season attracted 125 players, many of whom were on hand for the April 10 closing event. The young players enjoyed a pizza party before the Wake players – who came without their newly-named coach Danny Manning – made their very noticeable entrance. Waring, a Wake Law student and devoted Hanes Hosiery volunteer, asked the Wake players a series of questions for the benefit of the younger ballers.
One of her queries was, “Do you think it is more important to be in school of play basketball?”
“It’s definitely more important to go to school because basketball will eventually run out; education will last forever,” said Aaron Rountree, a Wake Forest sophomore forward.
Other players echoed that.
“We used basketball as a tool to get us out of where we came from so we could take advantage of the education,” said Devin Thomas, who is also a sophomore forward.
To the delight of the Hanes Hosiery kids, the Wake players challenged them to a friendly hardwood competition. Demon Deacons like the 6’8” Rountree had an obvious height advantage, but he said the youth held their own and displayed some impressive talent.
Mychala Wolfe, 16, was among the Hanes Hosiery players who took on the Deacs.
The aspiring professional basketball player has been coming to the recreation center since she was five. She said she appreciated the chance to play against college players.
“It was fun,” said Wolfe, who plays on the Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy Girls’ Basketball Team. “…It feels like an honor.”
Blevins praised the Wake players and especially the Youth Advocacy Group for helping kids better themselves in the classroom and on the basketball court.
“They’re role models; they’re smart; they represent Wake Forest; they help me tremendously,” Blevins said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
Waring, a second year law student, said she enjoys both the tutoring and coaching.
“Just seeing the smile on the kids’ faces, especially today, makes it worth it,” she said.
Allison Levene, who manages the Youth Advocacy Group’s 30 volunteers at the center, said the law students get as much out of it as the youth. Levene and Waring said it has become a home away from home for them.
“Law school is so stressful,” said Levene. “I think we both started with the tutoring and the basketball as just kind of an escape and it turned into something we love.”