Wednesday, August 8, 2007


This is a second in an occasional series of posts by students about the work they do in the basketball camps each day.

Guatemla is a beautiful country and I am very much enjoying working at the camps. Our camp is in it´s first year with Hoops Sagrado . It´s the camp at Pachaj. The first day we got their they had a nice little ceremony planned for us. We got speeches of appreciation and a native dance. It was amazing. I think I heard more than 15 times about how excited they were to have us there. It felt like we were actually accomplishing something.

We have now been at Pachaj for two and a half weeks. Time flies by. The children are just so exited to be a part of this. It sounds cheesy, I know. But their faces tell a lot.

There are a total of five of us working at the camps. There´s Kendra, Ernest, Jordyn, Jerren, and myself. We ride one microbus, a regular chicken bus, we hike up a very steep hill and then we walk some more to get up to the school. But it´s all worth it because just seeing the smiles on their faces and just loooking forward to working with us makes it all worth it.

Each day they start with stretches and warm ups. Ernest and Kendra work with the girls (who are a hyper bunch) and Jordyn and Jerren work with the boys.They all seem to work well together. But you can´t forget about me either I like to consider myself as the bridge. I translate most of what they can´t figure out but want the children to understand. I missed camp once because I got sick. Let´s just say they were very happy to have me back the next day.

We´ve started to work on plays and practicing more drills. They´re really into it along with the kids because, of course, we want to win. After a couple of weeks you can say we´ve all bonded really well with each other. Working with the boys and girls in the camps has pretty much made each of us appreciate the life we live back home. Most of these children don´t get to experience childhood the way we do back in the states, so just us taking the time to teach them about basketball and spending time with them, it makes a difference.

Sandra is a recent graduate from the Youth Build program and will begin classes at Montgomery College in the fall. Sandra's parents came to the United States from Guatemala shortly before her birth. This is only the second time she has been back to Guatemala and the first time leaving the capital.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Day at the Beach

Perhaps it was being at sea level after two weeks in the mountains, or perhaps it was the heat and humidity that reminded everyone of home, or perhaps even (probably) it was a Friday with no Spanish classes, but whatever it was, Hoops Sagrado went 2 for 3 on their Friday visit to the costal city of Reutalueh.

With music blaring from ginormous speakers and dozens of students milling about the outdoor court with a covered roof (definitely one of the nicer courts we've come across in our travels, especially after the game in Chichi), the morning didn't start out on a high note when the Hoops women lost to the Collegio D'Antoni 18-14.

The one highlight of the game was Jackie, a Hoops student and first-time baller who gave it her all in an effort to keep it close. A special thanks too to the student from D'Antoni who played with the Knights and probably played with the most heart winning her a Hoops Sagrado jersey.

But things quickly turned around when the varsity Knights team provided a basketball clinic for the local professional selection team from Reutalueh beating them 51-31. The game featured everything from break away slamdunks, to backdoor passing, to an Ossie Schectman two-handed, underhanded layup, and buzzer-beater 3-pointers (¿tienes cable?)

The younger guns got their chance too beating the D'Antoni team 20-2. For them the victory was bittersweet. After going up 18-0 in the first 15 minute half, the ref (Athletic Director of the school) decided to go with the mercy rule and allowed for only a 5 minute second half. With the taste of victory at hand, the younger Knights substituted frequently in the last five minutes giving everyone a chance to play. The D'Antoni team only got on the board because of an unfortunate foul with less than 10 seconds to go.

Immediately following the game, the scene resembled a Tiger Beat magazine signing party as all the young D'Antoni girls crowded around seeking autographs and photos of the entire Hoops team...players or not. While the D'Antoni moms in the crowd (can anyone say cougar?) didn't participate in the post-game adulation they did seem to sit awfully close to the one casi middle-aged Knights player.

All-in-all a good morning in Reutalueh, if you don't factor in the fact that we were in the coffee growing region of Guatemala and the Hoops scorekeeper couldn't find a cup of coffee anywhere....

After the games we boarded the bus once more for the quick ride to the nearby port town of Champerica where the beach is lined with small outdoor restaurants. We quickly staked our claim to a restaurant all to ourselves and everyone suited up and headed for the warm waters of the Pacific.

Once everyone had gotten their fill of swimming and fresher than fresh seafood, we headed back to the cool mountain nights of Xela. Somehow sparing life and limb, our chartered chicken bus seemed to make the return trip to Xela in record time with barely a chance for folks to sleep off the effects of an afternoon at the beach.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


This is the first in an occasional series of posts by students in the Hoops Sagrado program describing their time in Guatemala:

Most people will think going to a camp in Guatemala is like survival of the fittest...not even.

Being in Guatemala is like nothing I've ever done before. Chirijiquiac is the furthest camp from the school and riding with my teammates and the looks on their faces told me this was going to take forever--with the smell of diesel smoke buffering out.

When it was our stop, we got off and immediatly the kids rushed over and hugged whoever they could put there hands around except me because it was my first time at the camp. I walked over and saw that we had only one court and there are 48 kids--boys and girls. I said to myself “How is this going to work? It looks impossible for it to happen.” Especially since I'm so used to full court and about 15 players to a court at the basketball camps.

Then I heard “chicas y chicos liƱes.” And I said “what cheetos?” I was in the middle of the court and boys and girls rushed to get to their side. The camp began and I was like “Ohhh thats how it works.”

Now, this is my second time in Guatemala. Two years ago I was about 5´2 and now I´m 5´7 and taller than the kids!

Since we're at a different school [Spanish school in Xela] we didn't know how to get to Chirijquiac that first day so Stan, a Hoops Sagrado vet said “All we have to do is get to the rotunda.” So we walked to catch a micro bus that had a guy yelling out the side of the bus saying “Rotunda…Rotunda…Rotunda…. Si” We got to the rotunda and millions of buses went past.

I remembered to same smell of the diesal fuel smoke amd it was like smelling Mindy´s homemade cookies, which are better than Chips-a-Hoy, and when our bus finally came, I said it it brought back memeries. The bumpy roads were heavenly to the rump.

Our stop came and we got off the bus that left us in a cloud of smoke as it pulled off. We walked through the smoke and saw the kids playing basketball and when they saw us, they stopped and rushed over and hugged everybody. A few girls rushed and took my hand and said “¿Tu novia?”

When we began the camps I looked over and saw a smile so familiar. She asked me what was my name and I said "Brandon. Y tu?" And she said Juana and I remembered her from two years ago when we won the champingship. All the kids in the camp are bigger than they were two years ago. We did shooting drills and a girl named Santa had destiny in her eyes and made every shot when I asked her to "repeat."

The days have been going great and cuts are coming up. No doubt about it will be hard to let good players go.

Written by Brandon. Brandon will be a 16 year-old junior at The Field School in the fall. This is his second visit to Guatemala with Hoops, but the first summer he will be here for the whole month.