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.