Teaching hoops between holidays

Published 10:10 pm Monday, December 29, 2008

Practice resumed Sunday for the Oak Mountain basketball team, but before it did, players swapped to the other side of the whistle.

More than 60 kids attended the second-annual Hoops for Holidays basketball clinic conducted by the Oak Mountain players at Asbury United Methodist Church on Sunday to learn skills such as layups, rebounding and passing.

Senior forward Kevin McMahon said he enjoyed holding the kids up to let them dunk.

“It’s fun to work with the kids,” McMahon said. “They get happy over little things. It doesn’t take much for them to have fun.”

Eagles head coach Reggie Mantooth helped start the clinic last December when Asbury UMC member Randy Hays called him with the idea.

“We were just lucky enough to be invited to be a part of it. It’s something good for our guys to give back to our community and try to be together through the holidays as well,” Mantooth said.

Hays said kids came from housing projects and underprivileged homes in downtown Birmingham, East Lake, Wylam and some Shelby County communities.

Wilma Patterson, who serves as the executive director of Acknowledge Outreach Ministries in Wylam, was excited to bring a group of 25 kids to the clinic.

“Children love basketball and football and for them to come and be with people who actually play basketball is pretty cool,” Patterson said. “It gives them something to look forward to in between the holidays.”

The clinic is part of Asbury’s ministry Missions in Action. The group also helped send a number of the kids to the Papa John’s Bowl at Legion Field on Monday and have gathered football tickets from UAB and basketball tickets from Birmingham-Southern College throughout the year.

Patterson hopes that she will also be able to take the kids of Acknowledge to an upcoming game at Oak Mountain.

“They feel like family,” she said. “ I’d love it.”