Monday, September 1, 2008

Final Stat Lines for Hoops Sagrado 2008

It's taken a while (Stat Girl has issues with math) but here are the final stat lines from Hoops Sagrado 2008. Just a few things to remember: These do not include any of the games played in the Cantel tournament (those pages seem to be mysteriously missing) and the stats for the Young Guns do not include any of the games they played with the Old Heads, nor do the stats for Las Chicas include any games they played with the Young Guns.

Old Heads
Leading Scorer: Jerrod w/ 16.7
Assist Leader: Bryan 7.72
Leading Rebounder: Jeff 7.6

Bryan: 11.83 points/7.72 assists/4.2 rebounds
Aniekan: 10.09 points/2.4 assists/5.44 rebounds
Jerrod: 16.17 points/3.3 assists/5.2 rebounds
Stan: 12.5 points/3 assists/4.6 rebounds
Jeff: 13.8 points/1 assist/7.6 rebounds
Shaq: 15.5 points/1 assist

Young Guns
Leading Scorer: Brandon 13.55
Assist Leader: Johari 3.9
Leading Rebounder: Alex 12.17

Brandon: 13.55 points/ 3.38 assists /4.75 rebounds
Johari: 10.4 points/ 3.9 assists/ 3.44 rebounds
Alex: 13 points/ 1.5 assists/ 12.17 rebounds
Connor: 9.8 points / 1.4 assists / 2.78 rebounds
Ronald: 3.67 points / 1 assist / 5.25 rebounds
Lexus: .2 points/ .2 assist/ 2.67 rebounds

Las Chicas
Leading Scorer: Jordyn 14 points
Assist Leader: Jordyn 2 and Tyler 2
Leading Rebounder: Brittany 6.13

Jordyn: 14 points/ 2 assists/ 3 rebounds
Tyler: 12.33 points/ 2 assists/ 2.75 rebounds
Breezy: 1.89 points/ 1.56 assists/ 4.75 rebounds
Brittany: 3.78 points/ 0 assists/ 6.13 rebounds
Bookie: 1.67 points/ .22 assists/ 4.5 rebounds
Akasha: .22 points/0 assists/ 1.13 rebounds
Melody: 0 points/ 0assists/ .67 rebounds
Kara: 0 points/ .11assists/ .56 rebounds
Imani: .22 points/ 0 assists/ .34 rebounds

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And so it begins...

The bags are unpacked, the laundry is done and everyone seems to be getting back to their lives in D.C. and we are already busy planning for Hoops Sagrado 2009.

We've decided to limit the number of participants to 20 in 2009 and that includes us "old heads." So far we've got four slots filled up which leaves 16 more decisions to make.

Let us know...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adios Guatemala

It's about 3 a.m. (Guatemala time) on our last day in Guatemala and while most of the group is sleeping, some of us have decided to push on through until the 4 a.m. departure time for the airport.

While we know that everyone will be glad to get home to see family and friends and to take a good, strong, hot shower, it really is with heavy heart that we leave Guatemala this morning.

For 33 days we've lived together, laughed together, learned together, and some times fought/disagreed with each other. We've met many new people and have created life-long friendships and bonds that stretch across language, race and borders.

For some of us, Guatemala has touched our hearts and souls like no other place or experience and it's our genuine hope that the Hoops Sagrado students are as forever changed by this experience as those of us "old heads" have been through 10 years of the program.

Adios y gracias Guatemala.
Hoops Sagrado

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adios Xela

Yesterday, August 18, was a sad day for many of us as it was our last day in Xela. But before we boarded bus and headed out of Xela for the last time, we had a fiesta with all the teachers and directors from the four schools where we run the basketball clinics.

Since this is Hoops Sagrado, the fiesta included a few basketball games between the teachers and directors of each school with the Hoops folks who worked at each school pitching in. Although there was clearly some questionable play calling and refereing by other Hoops students.

After the basketball each school did a presentation for the students which including traditional dancing and singing. The directors of each school expressed their heartfelt thanks to all the Hoops students for the hard work that they do. Each student was presented with a small token from their schools which ranged from pieces of tipica with their names embroidered on them to hand-made purses and scarves.

For the first time, the superintendent of the school system in Cantel was at the fiesta and made a brief speech. His speech, which was quite emotional for many of us and basically included words along the lines of ..."Guatemala has no courses, Guatemala has no schools, Guatemala has poverty, but the students of Guatemala have angels and many of those angels are the students of Hoops Sagrado."

When the speeches and gift-giving had concluded everyone enjoyed a totally awesome lunch provided by the teachers of Chuisuc, then headed back to their homes to pack up and say their final good-byes to their families.

In what was probably a fitting moment, the bus pulled out of Xela for the last time on a totally beautiful and sunny afternoon.

We arrived in the lakeside village of Panajachel around 8 p.m. and within 5 minutes of getting situated in their rooms, most of the students were in the streets of Pana spending what little money they have left....if you're a loved one of a student on the trip, let's hope they spent some of that money on gifts for you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Week In Review

Last week was a busy one and while we have tons of stuff to tell you about, the time is pretty short so we'll give a quick review here and then fill in with blog posts as we can (probably even after we get home).

Saturday Aug. 9 was the annual lunch with all the Hoops Sagrado scholarship students. This year's lunch was held in Pachaj and as always it was a fun and special day. That evening we played Xela in the local gym and won on a thrilling and controversial last-second foul shot.

Sunday Aug. 10 was the day of the Cantel Tournament. Always a day jam-packed with basketball the Hoops Knights once again fell to Xela in the final game of the day.

Monday Aug. 11--we visited a family of artisans in Momostenango who weave blankets, rugs and create many other handicrafts. The students always get to try their hand at spinning the wool and making tortillas. Monday was also the last day for the basketball clinics and the final chance to practice before the big tournament.

Tuesday Aug. 12--we headed back to San Felipe for three more games against a local school. After the games we boarded the bus and headed to Champerico for the day...Champerico is a Pacifical coastal town like Ocean City, Md. only worse....but it's still a good time.

Wednesday Aug. 13 and Thursday Aug. 14 were the annual kids basketball tournament and the culmination of all of our work here in Guatemala. It was a jam-packed two days with probably the biggest news coming out of the tournament being that the Red Beast--the 4-time defending champion girls team from Chirijquiac--fell in the first round of the tournament! They stormed back the next day though to end up in third place. And in a reversal of last year, both the girls and boys teams from Pachaj won the championship. After the tournament on Thursday, everyone grabbed pick up trucks and headed to the gymnasium in Xela where we played three games against a local high school with Hoops ending the day 3-0.

Friday Aug. 15 we all headed to Fuentes Georginas for a day of relaxation in the hot springs. The water this year at the hot springs is really warm, bordering on hot. Folks say the more rain that we get here in this part of the world, the warmer the springs are. After leaving the hot springs we boarded a bus for Totonicopan for three Friday night games. Once again, the Knights ended the evening 3-0 (just barely for the ladies who won by one point).

Saturday Aug. 16 and Sunday Aug. 17 we visited ruins outside of the town of Huehuetenango and then headed to a town near the Mexican border called Jacaltenango for Sunday morning games. As these may or may not be our last games here in Guatemala (we don't know what the plan is for Panajachel) everyone really put in their best effort to end the day 3-0 with the "Old Head" breaking the 100 barrier on a last-second shot by Stan.

That's it for now. We'll try to be in touch again soon. We leave Xela today for two days in Panajachel and then will be home on Wednesday. It's amazing how quickly 33 days goes by.

Friday, August 8, 2008


(This is the final posting from our four basketball camps. The camp at Pachaj includes Jordyn, Jerrod, Connor, Imani and Bookie.)

Everyday at Pachaj we are greeted with a smile and hugs. When we finally reach the court the fun begins. Everyday we start off with layups and lots of running. The smiles on the kids faces definitely make the death defying walk up the hill worth it.

Sometimes they give us fruit and water. It really shows how much appreciation they have for us coming to there camp. In are camps there are a lot of girls that wear tipica during practice. To see girls playing basketball in heels and a skirt that symbolizes who they are.They play in clothes they are really suppose to play in. And also the fact that some of them have to work in farm fields or at home.

Teaching these kids basketball is a great experience and we wish that we can work with them everyday but we have to leave eventually. We had to cut the kids that made us sad but the kids were ok with it they still had smiles on there faces which brightened are day.

One thing that made me look at things differently is when one of the girls didn't have tennis shoes because they were to expensive. It made me a take a step back and appreciate my life more then I do now because not everyone is as fortunate. I hope we get to work with the kids next year because they were extremely grateful for us being at there school and we appreciated them being there too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


(This is a third in a series of posts by our students. This is by Jasmine, a first-time Hoops participant. Jasmine is at Chirijquiac with Stan, Brandon, Ronald and Akasha).

When I arrived at the airport with the Hoops Sagrado program, I was expecting a unique experience. This opportunity to explore Guatemala would mean speaking and going to school to learn Spanish.

I heard about the many different types of camps that the participants of the program would be going to. However I had know idea which one I would be going to. I couldn't wait to find out. It turns out I was selected to go to a camp named Chrijquiuac.

I was told my camp was the furthest away out of all the camps and that to reach I would have to leave early from class. I was confused and nervous about what will happen at camp. MAN! People were not playing when they said that it was far away. The ride took forever!

Anyway my group which included Stan, Brandon, Ronald, and Akasha finally arrived to the village. Immediately after stepping off of the bus, the children running up to us and pulling me away with them as they walked to camp.

Now I understood what people meant when they said I would be the "new" Brittney. I only knew a little bit of Spanish, but understood that the girls were calling me Brittney. I said no and the girls got sad and asked me what my name was. I told them my name was Jasmine, they started to laugh and whisper among themselves.

I felt kind of out-of-place because I spoke no Spanish, had no idea what to do, and had neither Ronald or Akasha to help me translate. So initially I just sat down and watched everybody play.

Some of the girls walked up to me and asked me my name. I replied and they giggled. One girl asked where was Brittney and I said "No Se" and "Estados Unidos". The girl got sad and she asked was I her sister. I said no and she just looked at me. She then saw my hair and said in Spanish "Como su pelo." I just heard the pelo part and said "si". She then started to touching it. Then more girls soon followed. Brandon soon called out ¨Chicas¨ and the girls ran away from me.

Ever since that day, I loved my camp, and all the kids that we had. Even though I never got to know all their names, they knew mine (felt very bad), and we all started friendships. I just hope that I can come back to Hoops Sagrado. I enjoy Chiriquiac and I hope they do well in the tournament. Words cannot describe how

I got so attached to these girls. I really enjoy the innocence and playfulness of the children. I just wish that I can take them all home with me, even though I don't know them that well. I really happy that I am participating in the program, and looking forward to working with the children again in the future.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chuisuc Champions

(This is the second in a series of postings by the Hoops students about their experiences at the basketball camps.)

The coaches of Chuisuc are Alex, Aniekan, Johari , Brittany , and Melody. With only three of us(Alex, Aniekan, and Johari) being the returning coaches of the Chuisuc champion chicos, we hope that the chicas can step their game up this year with Melody and Brittany .

The first week of camp was so-so because of the rain. So instead of playing basketball, we played hot potato with the pelota under the pavilion of the school. The kids were not very good listeners until we made them not listening synonomous with “diez”(push-ups) and “veinte y cinco”(jumping-jacks). So now we rarely have to repeat those phrases.

The second week with Alex being the late comer, he floated between the chicas and the chicos. Aneikan and Johari taught the chicos triangle offense, 2-3 zone defense, and pass and cut. The chicos were getting the hang of 2-3 zone and the triangle offense.

Meanwhile the chicas were being taught “zone-high” offense and 2-3 zone defense. Brittany and Melody were trying to take things slow due to lack of discipline. Entonces, they constantly had the chicas doing defense/offense drills. At the end of each day, the chicos played against the chicas implementing the drills they learned earlier.

Este semana, so far so good. We are still observing our players therefore, we have not made our final cuts. Now the chicos and the chicas are playing as a team ¡because we threaten them with whose going to be cut (solamente chiste)!

In conclusion…we expect the best out of our Chuisuc champions (chicos) and soon to be champions (chicas). Our players remind us of the saying “work hard…play harder”. That’ll be all for now…until next time, Disfruta!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Second Helpings

On Sunday (8/3) before heading to San Felipe for late-afternoon games, Hoops Sagrado made a day-long pit stop at Xocomil, a water park on the coast.

Now I know what you’re thinking…. “A water park? In Guatemala?” But seriously, this place is Disney World clean and not some place you would expect to find in a country that’s average household income is less than $1500 per year. Ahh, coffee plantations.

A water park with a theme of an ancient Mayan city is just wrong, yet so much fun. Sort of like pineapple on pizza.

Although some of us would have been content to spend the day on the lazy river (okay the two of us in the over-35 bracket) most everyone gave one of the many death-defying water slides a whirl. Fortunately, since we had three games to play that evening, everyone survived—albeit with a new found appreciation for just how much fun things can be with a different concept of safety—I mean really, what could possibly be unsafe about essentially climbing a 5-story building and shooting down a fiberglass tube into a 4-ft. pool of water with nothing but a thin piece of Styrofoam and your moxy?

After a day filled with sun and fun and admittedly a much needed break for everyone, we boarded the bus for San Felipe just as the heavens opened up and unleashed upon us a rainstorm that would have been worthy of a day off from work in D.C. It rained so hard that when we entered the gym in San Felipe we couldn’t hear each other (or our iPods) over the sound of the rain pounding on the tin roof.

Once they got the rain water off the court (covered mind you, but with no glass in the windows, things got a bit damp) and the lights turned on, Las Chicas were the first to take the floor. Although the ladies led for much of the game, once again toward the end of the game they were schooled by a 38-year-old with an awesome outside shot. In spite of the 45 to 33 loss, it really was a complete team effort and minus some questionable calls and the gutsy play of the ladies on the other team, it could have easily been a victory: Jordyn 10p/3a/4r; Tyler 13p/1a/1r; Breezy 3p/4a/3r; Brittany 2p/3r; Bookie 1r; Melody 1r; and Akasha 2p/3r.

The Young Guns faired a bit better with the final score although it was a close one. As is the case with just about every place we play, the calls were questionable and the Young Guns’ coach came this close to being shown the door…before he actually got the tech. Once again, everyone participated in the 39 to 34 victory and the stat line shows the complete picture: Brandon 9p/1a/4r; Johari 8p/4a/4r; Alex 7p/17r; Ronald 2p/7r; Connor 10p/1/7r; Lexus 3r.

Tensions were high before the tip-off for the Old Heads game but it quickly became obvious that this wouldn’t be quite the throw-down that some were expecting. The Old Heads jumped off to a quick lead that never dipped by more less than 16 points. When it became obvious how things were going to go, the mood loosened up and everyone on both teams seemed to have a good time in the 84 to 56 victory for the Knights. Bryan 17p/12a/2r; Aniekan 18p/2a/5r; Stan 10p/1a/2r; Jerrod 22p/5a/3r; Alex 11p/1a/4r; Johari 2a/1r; Connor 7p/3a/3r; Ronald 2p/1r; Stat Girl 1a.

Overall we ended the weekend 5-1 and are now looking forward to renewing our rivalry with Xela on Saturday night and Sunday in the Cantel Tournament.

Rain, Rain Go Away

(Beginning today, we'll be posting a write-up from each camp. Today's post is from Xejuyup, which includes Tyler, Kara, Nadia, Lexus and Breezy.)

With two weeks into camp the kids at Xelujup have been at a bit of a disadvantage due to the numerous rain cancelations. The Hoops Sagrado crew of Lexus, Shaq, Kara, Tyler, and Breezy started camp on Monday the 20th, where there roughly twenty-five girls and twenty boys.

Lexus and Shaq had the boys while Kara, Tyler and Breezy coached the girls. We found that the language barrier was a bit difficult at first, but we quickly learned the necessary phrases to get by....for example Alto, Defensa, Atencion, Darecha, Izquierda, and Cenasta.

We taught the girls the beloved phrase on the trip "I'm broke Baby¨ and the boys responded quickly with the cheer "ballin'".

The week flew by and everyone was saddened by the departure of Shaq, especially the 20 young boys from Xelujup.

Week two was a hard week for us, as we were one man short with Shaq's absence. Tyler was recruited to coach the boys team with Lexus, and the girls' team was sad to see Tyler go to the other side!

Selection day was on Wednesday and the four of us dreaded telling the kids who would not make the team. Surprisingly the selections went well with a little assistance of candy, and everyone went home happy.

Now that the two teams had been selected we were ready to start our practices. Unfortunately due to rain on Thursday and Friday, camp was called off. Yesterday our team was fortunate to get our late addition, Nadia, who arrived late Friday night into Xela. Although she doesn't play basketball her presence is felt in many ways and we love having her!

The two teams are showing much improvement and we look forward to preparing for the tournament next week!

Team Xelujup, Lexus, Tyler, Kara, Nadia, and Breezy
Shaq we miss you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

San Cristobal

Like the San Cristobal tournament itself (every year), this blog post about last weekend's games is a "bit" behind schedule.

We played the make-up San Cristobal tournament on Saturday, July 26 and in a format and pacing that bewildered even easy-going Bryan, Hoops Sagrado ended the day 2-5, but regained the San Cristobal title after losing it in 2007 to Mother Nature and Mazate.

The Old Heads defeated the San Cris youth team 75-37 (Bryan 8p/5a/5r; Aniekan 17p/1r; Stan 18p/2a/8r; Jerrod 16p/1a/1r; Brandon 5p/7a/2r; Johari 7p/2a/2r; Connor 2p; Ronald 1r; Lexus 2p). The Young Guns then fell 62 to 40 to the San Cristobal men's team (Brandon 17p/1a/4r; Johari 10p/1a/5r; Ronald 2p/5r; Connor 11p/1r; Lexus 1r; Tyler 1r) setting up a match between both teams of "old heads".

Despite repeated warnings from those in the know, the Hoops women's team was completely schooled by #6 for the San Cristobal team. Note to the ladies from D.C. (and Maryland)... just because someone is old enough to be your mother doesn't mean they can't teach you a thing or 10 on and off the court. The final score--in favor of San Cris--was 34-26. Jordyn 11p/2a/4r; Tyler 5p/4r; Brittany 5p/5r; Breezy 2p/1a/7r; Bookie 2p/6r.

Playing the San Cris youth team in the 3rd place game was a combination of all three Hoops teams after some of the Young Guns decided not to play. Perhaps it was the combination of experience or personalities on the court, but Connoer had the game of his life with 20p/1a/7r. And despite the 59-45 loss, everyone who made the effort to play in the 3rd place game got on the board: Bryan 1a/1r; Lexus 2r; Ronadl 2p/5r; Jordyn 4p/2a/1r; Tyler 10p/3a/1r and Johari 9p/4a/2r.

After a sumptious lunch of hot dogs with coleslaw (only in Guatemala) and orange soda, it was time for the main event. Although there is a lot of good natured kidding on and off the court between Hoops Sagrado and San Cristobal, things still get fairly intense at game time. And that intensity (or maybe it was the hot dogs) fueled the Old Heads to a 69 to 48 victory. Once again, every single player on the court and bench put in a solid effort: Bryan 6p/12a/5r; Aniekan 12p/3a/10r; Stan 6p/1a/5r; Jerrod 20p/2a/4r; Brandon 14p/2a/1r; Johari 4p/2a/1r; Connor 3p/2r.

And of course, as is tradition, after all the games, the group made its way to the midway of the San Cristobal fair where everyone enjoyed all the rides and the newbies had their first experience with corn on a stick...

Everybody Eats

Our third Saturday in Guatemala found us once again descending from the highlands to the coastal town of Reu.

This time we were scheduled to play the women's and men's under-21 teams from Reu as well as their selection team--all in the local gym in front of a very pro-local audience. At the end of the night Hoops Sagrado was 3-0.

After jumping out to a 33-5 first quarter lead, the Young Guns held off a Reu rally to prevail 58 to 48 (although the scoreboard said 58 to 50). Everyone had a hand in the win, especially Alex (20p/3a/12r) who arrived in Guatemala on July 27. Also lighting up the stat board were Brandon (18p/4a/9r); Johari (13p/6a/5r); Ronald (2p/8r); Connor (3p/1a/3r); and Lexus (2p/6r).

Las Chicas had everyone on their feet cheering in the final moments of their 45-42 overtime victory. Both teams put in a tremendous effort that we all agree was one of the most exciting games we've seen in Guatemala--ever. With the score tied at 38 at the end of regulation (once again there was some questionable score-keeping), the ladies turned on the after-burners in over to come up with the victory.

As in the boys game, just about everyone had a hand in the victory: Jordyn (20p/1a/5r); Tyler (15p/4a/4r); Breezy (9r); Brittany (9p/10r); Bookie (2p/11r); and Melody (1r).

Since the selection team from Reu is made up of a number of players from Molar, there were a log of familiar faces (and dirty tricks) on the court agains the Knights. Even though the game was never really close, there were enough questionable calls and rough play that Jerrod fouled out (before the 4th quarter) and Bryan got a tech (no court would have convicted him). Despite that (or perhaps in spite of it) the Knights prevailed 55 to 47.

Again, as was the case with the Young Guns and Las Chicas, everyone had hand in the Old Head victory: Bryan (9p/6a/1r); Aniekan (10p/4a/7r); Stan (10p/4a/3r); Jefford (8p/2r); Alex (6p/1a/11r); Brandon (9p/1a/2r); and Johari (3p/1r).

Everybody eats!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stat Line Through July

Since we won't have another official game until after August 1, here are the stats through July 31.

Old Heads
Bryan 12.0 Pts 6.5 Asts 4.6 Rebs
Aniekan 10.0 Pts 1.7 Asts 5.7 Rebs
Stan 11.6 Pts 2.0 Asts 7.6 Rebs
Jerrod 13.6 Pts 1.25 Asts 7.3 Rebs
Shaq 15.5 Pts 1.0 Asts NA Rebs
Brandon 6.0 Pts 2.75 Asts 1.3 Rebs
Johari 3.4 Pts 2.25 Asts 1.0 Rebs
Connor 1.8Pts 0.0 Asts 1.0 Rebs

Young Guns
Brandon 16.7 Pts 2.6 Asts 3.5 Rebs
Johari 8.4 Pts 4.0 Asts 3.0 Rebs
Connor 9.6 Pts 2.25 Asts 2.6 Rebs
Ronald 4.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 5.3 Rebs
Lexus 1.8 Pts 0.0 Asts 2.6 Rebs
Jeff 4.0 Pts 0.0 Asts NA Rebs
Tyler 4.3 Pts 1.0 Asts 1.0 Rebs
Jordyn 2.6 Pts 1.3 Asts 0.5 Rebs

Tyler 10.0 Pts 2.6 Asts 2.5 Rebs
Jordyn 15.6 Pts 1.3 Asts 4.0 Rebs
Brisa 1.0 Pts 1.3 Asts 4.0 Rebs
Brittney 2.3 Pts 0.0 Asts 6.5 Rebs
Bookie 2.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 4.5 Rebs
Kara 0.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 0.5 Rebs
Melody 0.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 0.5 Rebs
Jasmine 0.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 0.0 Rebs
Imani 0.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 0.0 Rebs
J. Drama 0.0 Pts 0.0 Asts 3.0 Rebs

Feliz Cumpleanos Tyler

A very special Happy Birthday to Tyler
who is celebrating her 15th birthday with Hoops Sagrado.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


After a week of classes and the first tests--with grades averaging in the high 80s--and the first week of camps in the books, the Knights boarded a "chartered" chicken bus for the ride to Chichicastenango.

For those familiar with our experience in Chichi last year, there was no vegetable goop to clean up before we could play, but there was still plenty of caca served up by the refs.

Never ones to be disuaded by bad calls and non-calls, the Knights were 3-0 on the night.

Las Chicas were first up and the starting five--Jordyn (17p/1a/4r); Tyler (14p/3a/3r); Breezy (1a/1r); Brittany (2p/8r); and Melody (1r) showed that they are really starting to gel with their 37-29 victory. Everyone had a hand in the win including Bookie (4p/3r); Kara (1r); and Akasha (3r). Imani and Jasmine pitched in as well.

With Jeff sadly on his way back to D.C., the Young Gunys may have been down a man, but they gained two women in their decisive 54-36 victory. Everyone made the stat sheet for the Knights including: Brandon (20p/6a/3r); Johari (8p/8a/2r); Connor (5p/5a); Ronald (14p/6r); Lexus (5r); Tyler (3p); and Jordyn (4p/2a).

The night really got interesting when the Old Heads took the court--imagine that. With a final score line of 61-47 (although stat girl swears it was 62), the Knights defied the odds and the refs and avenged last year's dirty-call loss.

Perhaps it was the palm wine, but MVP honors to to Stan (21p/5a/10r). And even though the clean floors didn't make the ref's calls any less dirty, everyone had a hand in the final victory of the night: Bryan (9p/3a/4r); Aniekan--before he fouled out and exited the court in a single-finger blaze of glory ("we're #1"?) (7p/4a/6r); Jerrod (18p/2a/8r); Brandon (4p/1a); and Johari (3p/2a).

The evening ended with a moonlit ride back to Xela with just enough time for everyone to catch a bit of shut-eye before heading to San Cristobal on Saturday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

An Unfortunate Farewell

People always ask us before we leave if we ever send any kids home because of problems. Our answer is always an emphatic yes. Unfortunately though, there are times when we have to send students home because of circumstances beyond our control.

Such was the case on Friday when Shaq and Jeff learned of the unexpected passing of their 33-year old aunt.

As much a sister and a mother as she was an aunt, both Owens boys felt their place was at home to say a proper good-bye. So even though they wanted to stay for just one more game, they left Xela Friday afternoon for a Saturday morning flight home.

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with Shaq, Jeff and the whole Owens family and we ask that you extend yours as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Consequences of Being Late

We look at a Hoops Sagrado as a team effort, more of a family really. We share everything--the good times and the bad times.

That's why, when one--or in this instance two--members of the family were more than 20 minutes late for class on Wednesday, everyone--and I do mean everyone--was required to show up at the school at 5:30 a.m. for pre-class basketball practice.

Fortunately, everyone was on time for practice and the group made it's way in the pre-dawn fog and cold to the complejo for some much needed practice and a bit of a lesson on team work.

Let's hope for everyone's sake, that the necessary lessons were learned and practice can be at a more reasonable hour in the future.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Abaj Takalik, Mazatenango and San Cristobal

Before heading to the coastal town at Mazatenango (Mazate), we made a slight detour to visit the ruins at Abaj Takalik.

Abaj Takalik is ancient Mayan ruins set on land now occupied by coffee, rubber and sugarcane plantations. Only 5 percent of the city — which was an important trading center in the late Preclassic era before AD 250 — has been excavated. Although the remaining 95 percent has been mapped, it remains on private land.

The site, which is about 6.5 sq km, is made up of nine natural terraces and filled with temple mounds, ball courts and flights of steps paved with rounded river stones. The site is still being excavated today and recent discoveries include an ancient aqueduct.

We had an awesome tour guide who knew just enough English that when our translator Ronald got a bit stuck on certain words, was able to help ease the way. Everyone seemed quite interested and did a pretty good job of paying attention throughout most of the tour. Hopefully they learned a lot because there will be a quiz later!

Although Lonely Planet says that travelers should “keep on keeping on” instead of stopping in Mazate, one-third of the Knights are fairly glad we stopped as we are now at 2-0-1 overall (old heads, young guns, chicas).

The Hoops women’s team was first up and although they didn’t quite recapture the glory of Friday’s game in Reu, they still put on a good show in their 45-30 loss. Suiting up for the ladies in Mazate were Jordyn, Tyler, Breezy, Brittany, Bookie, Kara, Melody, Imani and Akasha (Jasmine played the role of head cheerleader). As the buzzer sounded Jordyn had 19 points and 1 assist; Tyler had 11 points and 1 assist and Breezy had 3 assists. Both Jordyn and Tyler probably had a few more points than they were awarded because of some questionable 3-point calls.

The starting five for the Young Guns were Brandon, Johari, Connor, Jeffrey and Ronald, with Lexus filling in as a solid 6th man. Despite outstanding performances by Brandon (19 points, one assist), Johari (9 points, 3 assists) and Connor (10 points, 3 assists), the Young Guns fell to the Mazate youth team by a score of 47-38.

Aided by an Academy Award-winning performance by Shaq, changing Hoops Sagrado into Hoops Stuntgrado, the Old Heads beat the Sate of Suchitepequez selection team by a score of 59 to 49. Poor sportsmanship abounded, as classic Suchi dirty play and hard fouls came out down the stretch but in the true tradition of the Knights cultural exchange program players were able to say in Spanish “Shut your mouth, and play!” In the immortal words of Sam Levy “F… Suchi”

The stat-line shows a very well-balanced game that featured Bryan (11 points, 6 assists), Aniekan (10 points); Stan (6 points, 3 assists); Jerrod (11 points); Brandon (2 points, 1 assist); Johari (3 points, 3 assists); and before being felled by a mysterious knee injury (quick, get the magic spray) Shaq had 16 points and 1 assist.

Stat-girl hopes to keep rebounds next game, although the assists are proving to be more of a challenge than one would imagine.

On Sunday, after giving everyone a chance to sleep in, call home, explore Xela, we headed to San Cristobal to participate in the annual tournament. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas about our participation. And even though some of the group enjoyed spending an hour or so playing a pick-up game in the rain, most everyone hovered in a nearby washing area and closet in hopes that the rain would stop.

Unfortunately the rain never stopped and we headed to a closed gas station to wait out the rain and wait for our bus. While waiting, folks entertained themselves in a variety of ways including a dance-off between Team Johari-Stan and team Aniekan-Melody.

Next up is Chichicastenango on Friday night…fortunately for those who remember, Friday is not a market day in Chichi. Yeah!!! No shoveling fruit goop, and horse caca from the court before the game.

And in an action of futility we’re going to give the San Cristobal tournament another try on Saturday…this time in the morning when it’s less likely to rain. Psych!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

First Day of Classes and Camps

Although we've got some Saturday and Sunday basketball still to report, for now, we'll just give you a brief update on the first day of classes.

In a move that left some of us stunned, everyone showed up for class on time at 8 a.m. on Monday. All the students were assigned a teacher. It's a mix of two and one student per person. The school was filled with nothing but Spanish language, so that means people may actually be studying...always a good thing.

After lunch, the directors from all the schools arrived to take the students to the camps. This year's camps are:

Chirijquiac--Stan, Brandon, Rondald, Akasha and Jasmine
Chuisuic--Aniekan, Johar, Brittany, Melody, and eventually Alex
Xejuyup--Breezy, Shaq, Tyler, Kara, Lexus and evenutally Nadia
Pachaj--Jordyn, Jerrod, Connor, Jeffrey, Imani, and Bookie

Although everyone is still learning how to say the names of their villages (and some of us are still working on the spelling) the reports from the field are that everyone had a great afternoon getting to know the kids and learn their way to and from the villages.

Tonight is movie and pizza night at the school. We'll be back in touch, hopefully later today or tomorrow with more gameday reports and an update on school and camps.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

2 and 1 in Cougar Country

The Hoops Sagrado Knights are 2 and 1 after three games in the coastal city of Reu on Friday.

But before we get to that, let’s talk a bit about our last night in Antigua. While shopping in the market to replace missing basketball shoes and underwear from luggage that American Airlines claims is somewhere (where, none of us are really sure) we saw a most wondrous sight in the distance…a fair.

For those of you familiar with Guatemala or our adventures here, you’ll be well aware of what wonderment the local fairs are. This one proved no different.

After a meal a Pollo Campero a group of us headed to the fair and partook in all it had to offer including the Tornado, the Ring of Fire, the Octopus, and in a site that really seemed to amuse the on-looking locals about 12 of us at once took over the bumper cars. A good time was had by all and there was only one close-call with puking after the Ring of Fire.

On Friday we boarded the bus for the trip to Reu. This year, the autograph sessions started before one shot was even taken. Clearly our reputation proceeded us.

First out of the box were the Knights women. The starting five of Jordyn, Tyler, Breezy, Bookie and Brittany had an outstanding game, but all the ladies--Melody, Jasmine, Imani and Kara--had an opportunity to participate in the 39-26 victory. It was a great effort by all and we're really looking forward to big things as the girls have a chance to gel as a group.

Next up were the Hoops Sagrado young guns (Brandon, Johari, Connor, Lexus, Jeffry and Ronald) and while they had a considerable half-time lead, the team from Reu ultimately prevailed by a score of 24 to 21.

To top the morning of basketball off, the “old heads” (Bryan, Aniekan, Brian F., Jerrod, Shaq, Stan, Johari, Brandon, and Ronald) ran the show with a 58-37 victory. Man of the Match honors go to our fearless leader Bryan who had an incredible 23 points…we’ll credit that to the elusive “cougar factor”.

On the way to Xela, we stopped at Albaramar, had some food, took a swim and boarded the bus to meet the families.

Everyone is now with their families and I'm sure there will be plenty of stories this morning about tepid showers and cereal with warm milk.

Today we're off to visit some ruins and then on to another coastal town for three more games.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

We're Here!

We've arrived in Guatemala last night and immediately headed for Antigua. All is well minus a couple of pieces of luggage, but hopefully those will show up this morning.

Everyone seems to be doing really well and the group seems to be getting along great.

Today we'll do a bit of orientating and then, of course, some basektball. Tomorrow we head to a school at the coast for a game and then Xela in the evening. Saturday we head back to the coast for another game and Sunday it's off to the San Cristobal tournament.

If there's WiFi at the coast, you'll hear from us tomorrow, but if not, we'll be back online as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meet the 2008 Hoops Sagrado Participants

We're all set (and hopefully packed) and ready to leave today Wednesday July 16. We've got much better Internet access this year so we hope to do a lot more blogging, so please check back often. In the meantime, please meet the 2008 Hoops Sagrado Participants....

Akasha is a 2-time Hoops participant, will be a sophmore at Georgetown Day School in the fall and can usually be found on most weekends working with her mom at Eastern Market.

Alex will be joining Hoops for part of the trip for the fourth time. He'll be a senior at The Field School in the fall and was named MVP of the Potomac Valley Championship basketball game this year.

Bookie is a first-time Hoops participant and a rising senior at Cesar Chavez. Bookie came to our program by a stroke of luck and let's hope she bring some luck to the ladies' basketball team!

Brandon is a three time Hoops participant and will be a senior at The Field School in the fall. In addition to being one of our star players, Brandon will also be working with local potters in Guatemala to prepare for his AP ceramics class in the fall.

Brittany is June graduate of Hydy Leadership Public Charter School. She plays rugby and basketball and will be participating in City Year when we get back to D.C. in August.

Breezy is a first-time Hoops participant and graduate of Winona State. Breezy would like find a career helping children in foreign countries, lets hope she survives the kids from D.C.!

Connor is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a junior at DeMatha in the fall. Connor is a Hoops "legacy" as his brother went with us in 2002 (but Connor insists he's much better at basketball).

Damien (Baby Shaq) is a 2-time Hoops participant. Shaq is back with Hoops for the 10th Anniversary after taking a couple of years off to finish school and work.

Imani is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a sophmore at Montgomery Blair in the fall. Although not a baller, Imani said she's game for trying to round out the girls team.

Jasmine is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a junior at Thurgood Marshall Academy in the fall. Jasmine has a great volunteer spirit and has put that to good use on a variety of projects including in New Orleans.

Jeffrey is a first-time Hoops participant and Hoops legacy. His counsin Shaq was a 2003 Hoops volunteer and will be with us this year. Jeffrey will be a junior at Maya Angelou Public Charter school in the fall.

Jerrod is a first-time Hoops participant and graduate of MM Washington. Instead of working at Harris Teeter like just about everyone else, Jerrod decided to come to Guate with us, for which we are very excited.

Johari is a 3-time participant in Hoops Sagrado and will be a junior at School Without Walls in the fall. Johari is working on getting his pilot's license (how cool is that?!).

Jordyn is a 2-time Hoops participant and will be a sophmore at Paul VI in the fall. According to Jordyn, if she hadn't been able to come back to Guatemala this year, she would have spent the summer crying.

Kara is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a senior at Cesar Chavez School of Public Policy in the fall. She's studied Guatemala quite a bit in school and is anxious to see it for herself.

Lexus is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a junior at Maya Angelou Public Charter School in the fall. Lexus is not only a ball player, but also a bit of an artist so we're looking forward to seeing what he and our resident artist Aniekan can come up with.

Melody is a first-time Hoops participant and will be a junior at Thurgood Marshall Academy in the fall. Melody loves to dance so we're looking forward to her putting those skills to work as part of the Hoops Sagrado Knights cheering squad.

Nadia is a 2-time Hoops participant and a recent graduate of Cesar Chavez School of Public Policy. Nadia's not sure what's on her agenda for next year, but we're just glad she's back with us for at least part of another summer.

Ronald is a 2-time Hoops participant and will be a senior at The Field School in the fall. Ronald will be teaching English in one of the village schools this year.

Stan is a 4-time Hoops participant and recent graduate of Michigan State University. Stan is currently interning at the Pew Charitable Trusts but was able to get time off to go to Guate.

Tyler will be a 10th grader at Elizabeth Seaton in the fall. She's passionate about basketball and is looking forward to improving her Spanish-language skills.

This year's "adults" are:
Aniekan is a 6-time Hoops participant and glad that he's able to renew his Zoloft prescription while in Guate...he'll be painting a mural again this year.

Bryan is a 10-time Hoops participant and after much consideration, the Hoops selection committee decided to allow him to join us for the 10th Anniversary.

Mindy is a 5-time Hoops participant and extremely glad that she'll be able to "work from Guatemala" during this busy election year.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

10 Days to go....

Ten days to go and everyone has a passport! What a difference a year makes!

All that's left to do is pack our bags and get to the airport on the 16th.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you so much to our supporters (especially the basketball folks) who have been so very generous to Hoops Sagrado this year. None of our success would ever be possible without your support. Gracias!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Final preparations

With a little over a month to go till we depart for Guatemala (July 16 out of National) we are busy making our final plans for this summer's trip.

Once we have a complete list of participants we'll post those here so you can meet this year's group.

Friday, May 16, 2008

16 many more to go....

So far we're at 16 people for our 2008 trip. We hope to have the numbers finalized by the beginning of the week so we can start purchasing plane tickets...before they get too expensive.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Count Down to 2008

Four months and one and a half days till Hoops Sagrado 2008 takes flight for Guatemala!

2008 marks our 10th Anniversary and we are busy making plans for the upcoming summer. Bryan and Mindy were just in Guatemala to set things up and the calendar for this summer's trip is already jam-packed.

Get those applications and letters of commitments in because July 17 will be here before you know it!