Thursday, July 30, 2009


(Breezy, Jamal, Mit'hat, Sam and Tyler)

This summer, the pied-piper of Xejuyup has returned with a vengance...welcome back Samuel. Also returning home are Mit'hat, Breezy and Tyler along with our newest addition, Jamal.Withour squad complete, we have set out on our quest for the 'Ship.

During our first week of camp, we were graciously welcomed by our group (or kids) consisting of about 23 boys and 20 girls. We begin each day with warm-up exercises consisting of laps, stretching and pushups. Later we begin drills such as dribbling competitions, shooting, passing and defensive slides. A typical day in Xejuyup is never complete without a ball rolling down the steep mountain into the cornfields, resulting in all the boys flying down the mountain to get it. After the ball is retrieved, camp resumes with 1 on 1, 2 on 2 and finally 5 on 5 competitions at the end.

We have narrowed down the boys and girls teams to 10 memebers each. It was sad cutting kids who show so much effort, but it is great to work with smaller groups because we are now teaching advanced basketball topics like zone and man defenses and setting picks on offense. It's evident that the kids hard work has paid off in the first two weeks because their skills keep improving daily. When we first came to the camp some kids couldn't dribble and had trouble reaching the rim. It is amazing how quickly they are improving.

We are really getting close to our kids the more time we spend with them. We are amazed that the families are allowing their 4th, 5th and 6th graders to miss work in order to come to our camp. We must reiterate what an honor it is to work with them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


(Beginning today, we'll be running a series of posts written by our students about their experiences in the basketball clinics. First up is Chuisuc, which is run by Alexis, Aniekan, Carla, Devonte and Elvis).

The camp: five coaches, one court, two weeks and too many kids. No really, it's only too many in relation to the ten who make up the team. However, the team is more than the ten that play in the tournament, it is everybody that comes each day. Some show up to play ball, some just play around, but it is everybody who is around that makes it fun. It's speaking Spanglish, thanking Carla for speaking Spanish, making up handshakes and yelling cuadro afuara in hopes they will box out.

Working with the kids is interesting because you have to teach them everything in ways they'll understand. Basketball serves as a bridge to the language barrier. Although, unless they have ball in their hand, the questions they ask have nothing to do with basketball. The questions they ask are about your family and school.

By the end of the second week, the focus has shifted and its more serious. The questions are like "am I going to make the team?" and "which day are the cuts?" The second week came and we made the cuts. The kids took it pretty well. There was no crying and no bitterness. The best part is the kids we select are sixth graders so the rest are younger, giving them another year to make the team.

Now with the teams made it's still fun and now they just want to win. This week coming up we are teaching them 2-3 defense and offensive moves. The girls know their positions and are learning their roles.

Basketball is bridging the gap for kids up in Chuisuc with kids in America.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If It's Raining, It Must Be San Cristobal

We are going to go a bit out of order here and talk about Saturday and Sunday before we talk about Friday. The events of Friday need a proper vetting before posting them on the blog, but please stay tuned, it will be worth the wait.

As for the weekend, we participated in the San Cristobal tournament for the 11th year and for the 11th year, the tournament was rain delayed. Seriously, no one should ever plan a wedding, a barbeque or any outdoor event for the weekend of the San Cris tournament because surely it too will be rain-delayed.

Still, despite the rain, our hosts in San Cris were as gracious as ever and this year even served us something other than hot dogs with coleslaw to show their appreciation.

Las Chicas were 50-50 in the tournament. On Saturday, despite their efforts, they lost to the host team 45 to 41. But the loss did not deter them and they rallied for an early morning game on Sunday and defeated the team from Pahula 41-30. The newest members of the team are learning hard lessons learned by last year's team. Just because someone looks like "she's 'bout 90" does not in fact mean that person cannot ball. For some reason this is always an issue with the girls team and those of us on the trip who at times might feel like we're "'bout 90" take a subtle pleasure in watching some of the more mature players on opposing teams teach Las Chicas a lesson about the experience that comes with age.

Las Chicas vs. San Cris (41 to 45)
Alexis: 1 point/3 rebounds
Breezy: 1 assist/2 rebounds
Carla: 2 rebounds
Chanae: 3 rebounds
Imani: 2 points/2 rebounds
Jordyn: 15 points/ 2 assists/ 1 rebound
Justine: 2 rebounds
KK: 3 points/ 3 assists/ 4 rebounds
Tyler: 20 points/ 7 rebounds

Las Chicas vs. Pahula (41 to 30)
Alexis: 2 points/ 6 rebounds
Breezy: 2 rebounds
Carla: 2 rebounds
Chanae: 6 rebounds
Imani: 1 rebound
Jordyn: 14 points/ 2 assists/ 1 rebound
Justine: 5 rebounds
KK: 6 points/ 3 rebounds
Tyler: 19 points/ 1 assist/ 9 rebounds

The Young Guns bounced back from Friday (more to come later) and took on the San Cristobal sub-21 team with a renewed passion. Malik was a beast on the boards and in buckets and completed a double-double with 26 points and 17 rebounds. But it wasn't a one-man show and everyone made the stat line in the 66-43 victory. Following a good night's rest and a morning off, the Young Guns prepared to play for the championship on Sunday against Totonicopan. With 3 minutes left to go in the third quarter and the Knights up by 20, the heavens opened up and it rained the way it only can in San Cris. After about an hour rain delay, the Young Guns took to the court again and looked to maintain their 20-point lead right through to the end. Of course that's when things started to meltdown and emotions were running high. Despite the inter turmoil on the team, the Young Guns were able to hold it together long enough for a 51-47 victory and be crowned junvenile champions.

Young Guns vs. San Cristobal (66 to 43)
Elvis: 2 points/ 5 assists/ 6 rebounds
Devonte: 7 points/ 2 rebounds
Diggs: 9 points/ 3 assists/3 rebounds
Jamal: 4 points/ 3 rebounds
Jerren: 4 points/ 1 assist/ 1 rebound
Malik: 26 points/ 1 assist/ 17 rebounds
Mit'hat: 8 points/ 4 assists/ 3 rebounds
Nate: 4 points/ 2 assists/ 3 rebounds

Young Guns vs. Totonicopan (51 to 47)
Elvis: 3 points/ 6 rebounds
Devonte: 9 points/ 2 assists/ 6 rebounds
Diggs: 5 points/ 3 rebounds
Jamal: 2 rebounds
Jerren: 2 points/1 assist/2 rebounds
Malik: 12 points/2 assists/13 rebounds
Mit'hat: 12 points/9 rebounds
Nate: 5 points/1 rebound

Thanks to extended rain delays on both Saturday and Sunday, the Old Heads didn't take to the court until the sun was beginning its daily creep behind the mountains. First up on the docket for the Old Heads was the host team. Despite the fact that folks on both teams are long-time friends and have shared a cerveza or two together, that didn't stop things from getting chippy and the fouls were flying pretty fast and furious. Mother Nature cooled things off with, wait for it, wait for it...rain delay and the Old Heads returned after the delay to defeat San Cris 61 to 44. What can we say about the championship game vs. Mazate (at least the portions of their team that showed up) other than what you would expect: a rain delay, bad calls, rough play and a stompin' by Hoops Sagrado. The Old Heads defeated one of their costal rivals 89 to 34 to once again be crowned champions of the San Cristobal tournament.

Old Heads vs. San Cris (61 to 44)
Aniekan: 14 points/7 assists/4 rebounds
Bryan: 6 points/2 assists/1 rebound
Diggs: 4 points/7 rebounds
Mit'hat: 3 points
Sam: 3 assists/6 rebounds
Shaq: 20 points/ 1 assist/ 11 rebounds
Stan: 14 points/3 assists/2 rebounds

Old Heads vs. Mazate (89 to 34)
Aniekan: 10 points/3 assists/6 rebounds
Bryan: 18 points/4 assists/3 rebounds
Diggs: 3 rebounds
Jerrod: 18 points/1 assist/4 rebounds
Mit'hat: 11 points/2 assists
Nate: 4 points
Sam: 6 points/5 assists/5 rebounds
Shaq: 7 points/2 assists/10 rebounds
Stan: 11 points/3 rebounds

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cunen and Chichicastenango

The weekend brought the first roadtrip of our adventure and we traveled about four hours by bus to the mountain town Cunen in Quiche state.

Surrounded by mountains and next the Catholic church in the center of the town, the outdoor court in Cunen has to have been one of the prettiest settings for a basketball game the Knights have ever had the opportunity to experience.

With the sun setting over the mountains, the Young Guns took the court first. Our readers will have to forgive Stat Girl for not having a complete report from the Young Guns game (although all the stats are correct) because we spent most of the boys game trying to fix the clock/scoreboard. Luckily for us, Cunen's very own MacGuyver was able to fix with with some first aid tape (and gum wrapper of course). The final score was Young Guns 56 and Cunen 48.

Devonte: 7 points/ 1 assist/ 4 rebounds
Elvis: 9 points/ 2 rebounds
Nate: 10 points/ 2 assists/ 5 rebounds
Jamal: 2 points/ 5 rebounds
Malik: 8 points/9 rebounds
Jerren: 2 points/ 5 assists/ 5 rebounds
Diggs: 10 points/ 4 rebounds
Mit'hat: 8 points/ 7 rebounds

The Las Chicas game (and yes, it's odd to say The Las) started with a lot of discussion about whether or not the game should be for 8 or 10 minute quarters. Cunen decided on 10 minute quarters and by the time the game ended with a 50-27 victory for Las Chicas, we suspect the Cunen team may have regretted that decision.

Tyler: 19 points/ 2 assists/ 8 rebounds
Jordyn: 15 points/ 4 assists
Alexis: 1 assist/ 6 rebounds
KK: 10 points/ 1 assist/ 1 rebound
Breezy (2 points)/ 3 assists/ 1 rebound
Chanae: 4 points/ 3 rebounds
Imani: 2 points/ 1 assist/ 9 rebounds
Carla: 1 assist/ 3 rebounds

By the time the Old Heads game rolled around the court was under the lights--okay, so half the court was under the lights, the other half, not-so-much. It was pretty obvious early on that the Knights had things under control, especially when it was 45-10 at the half. The large lead gave the Old Heads an opportunity to get creative including several crowd-pleasing dunks by Aniekan "Oh My Aching Back" Udofia. It also gave Nate an opportunity to make his debut with the Old Heads (and score a bucket). In the end, it was 89-32 in favor of the Knights.

Bryan: 6 points/ 8 assists/ 4 rebounds
Sam: 7 points/ 2 assists/ 5 rebounds
Stan: 19 points/ 2 assists/ 4 rebounds
Jerrod: 21 points/ 4 assists/ 4 rebounds
Shaq: 13 points/ 8 rebounds
Mit'hat: 3 points/ 1 assist
Diggs: 5 rebounds
Aniekan: 19 points/ 3 assists/ 7 rebounds
Nate: 2 points

After the game, everyone headed to a local restaurant--the only one in town-- for dinner by candlelight, which was courtesy of a blown transformer. Our small hotel, of which we were fortunately the only guests, took on a freshman dorm atmosphere with lots of tall tales and farting...good times.

On Sunday, half of the group went on a hike to some local caves and waterfalls. The report from the field is that it was the most beautiful and amazing thing that some of the students had ever seen.

Around mid-day we boarded the bus to Chichicastenango. We were scheduled to play three games in Chichi beginning at 8 p.m., but the consensus on the bus was that people weren't really up for three more games at that hour, so we canceled the games and most likely saved American-Guatemalan relations for at least another week. We still stopped in Chichi to visit the market and try our hands at bartering for goods, but we were home in Xela before our first game was scheduled to start and in theory for everyone to get a good night sleep before Monday classes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coatepeque and Champerico

After a week of classes and basketball camps, the Hoops Sagrado Knights descended from the Highlands of Quetzaltenango to the coastal town of Coatepeque for our first officials games on Friday.

Las Chicas and the Young Guns took on the boys and girls teams from the Pedro Molina high school and the Old Heads played the Coatepeque selection team--who were the league champions in 2008.

The ladies were the first up and when the scoreboard at halftime read 38-9 in favor of Las Chicas, the pressure of getting the first win in Guatemala quickly evaporated. Almost all of the ladies mad an appearance in the game and everyone who plaed made the stat line. Las Chicas 55--Pedro Molina 21.

Jordyn: 8 points/2 assists/5 rebounds
Tyler: 20 points/ 1 assist/ 13 rebounds
Alexis: 8 points/ 3 assists/ 10 rebounds
KK: 13 points/ 2 assists/ 6 rebounds
Carla: 1 rebound
Chanae: 4 points/ 1 assist/ 7 rebounds
Justine: 2 points/ 2 rebounds
Imani: 4 rebounds

Two-hundred members of the school community will be making their way to Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2010 and we were treated to a preview of their performance (including a special rendition of Happy Birthday for Chanae) between games. We aren't sure the Rose Parade has ever seen anything like it! Be sure to tune in and see for yourselves.

Next on the court after the brief musical interlude were the Young Guns. Although the boys didn't quite dominate in the same fashion as the ladies, they still managed to pull off a 36-29 vitory. At one point, the Young Guns proved threatening enough that when just about no one was looking but Stat Girl, a member of the selection team slipped on a Pedro Molina jersey and entered the game. Even though that may have helped keep the score closer, it was all for naught as every member of the Knights made the stat line and kept Hoops Sagrad 2-0 for the day.

Devonte: 2 points/ 2 assists/ 1 rebound
Jerren: 2 points/ 1 assist/ 4 rebounds
Nate: 8 points/ 1 assist/ 3 rebounds
Elvis: 5 points/ 6 rebounds
Malik: 10 points/ 7 rebounds
Mit'hat: 6 points/ 1 assist/ 6 rebounds
Diggs; 3 points/4 rebounds
Jamal: 3 rebounds

For the final game of the morning--okay, it's Guatemala so the final game of the afternoon--the Old Heads took on the league-winning selection team. It seemed as if blow-out was in the works at half-time with the Knights up by 16, but the Coatepeque team went on a 12-0 run in the 3rd quarter to make things interesting. With less than a minute to go the Knights were only up by 3, but fortunately kept the ball and thanks to a last-minute 3 by Diggs (with an assist from Bryan) to earn him the Dario Paul Poor Sportsmanship Award, the Knighs prevailed 54-48.

Bryan: 8 points/ 2 assists/ 2 rebounds
Aniekan: 4 points/ 2 assists/ 3 rebounds
Jerrod: 19 points/ 3 assists/ 4 rebounds
Stan: 7 points/ 1 assist/ 5 rebounds
Sam: 4 points/ 1 assist/ 8 rebounds
Shaq: 4 points/ 8 rebounds
Diggs: 6 points/ 2 assists/ 4 rebounds
Mit'hat: 2 points/ 1 assist/ 1 rebound

The best way to celebrate the Knights firs three victories was of course a trip to the beach. So after a lunch--which included a sampling of cow utters--provided by our host, we headed to Champerico to dip our toes in the ocean and watch the sunset over the Pacific.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Early Morning Practice

It's 6 a.m. in you know where your children are?

If they are on the Hoops Sagrado trip they are all currently walking about a mile to some local basketball courts for early morning practice. Time will tell how this turns out, but we suspect an early night for everyone tonight.

More soon....

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Have Arrived

We have finally arrived in Guatemala and more to the point we have finally arrived in Xela! Only three days in and it's been a lot of firsts already...first plane ride, first time in a foreign country, first meal out of a cart...and it's been pretty exciting because everyone has survived, even the meals out of the carts! Every year in Guatemala its a different experience because the people on the trip are different. First impressions so far have been that folks seem really open to trying new things and really respectful of each other and the program. There's a lot more to write, especially tomorrow after the first full day of classes and camps, but we just wanted to take a moment to let you all know that we're here, we're safe and so far, we're having a great time (oh and learning too!).

Friday, July 10, 2009

And We're Off....

The bags are packed (hopefully) and the passports have all arrived (finally...and don't get us started on that one) and Hoops Sagrado 2009 is set to take off (literally) on Saturday July 11. But before we get to Guatemala, let us introduce you to this year's team:

Alexis--rising junior at Bishop McNamara High School, first time Hoops participant. Alexis doesn't think there is a better way to learn than "hands on," and is looking forward to working with the children in Cantel.

Aniekan--graduate, School of Hard Knocks, seven-time Hoops participant. Made sure to load up on Zoloft prescription before heading out....the year of no technicals. Aniekan will be painting a mural in Pachaj this year.

Breezy--graduate, Winona State, two-time Hoops participant and getting things started right this year by being diagnosed with tonsillitis the day before the trip.

Bryan--graduate, Howard University, 11-time Hoops participant, fearless leader, father, husband, BFF, oh and the best ANC Commissioner in D.C. according to the City Paper. He's got a new iPod and new shoes this year...Xela, you've been warned....

Carla--rising senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in D.C. and first-times Hoops participant. Carla is a native of Ecuador and excited to learn about a new culture and work on her Spanish.

Chanae--rising junior at Thurgood Marshall Academy and first-time Hoops participant. Chanae is looking forward to the adventure that the trip will be and becoming a more well-rounded person.

Deon--Diggs, as we like to call him, is a graduate of Hyde Public Charter School, student at Johnson & Wales in Miami and four-time Hoops participant. We're looking forward to having Diggs' steadying hand on the trip.

Devonte--rising junior at Suitland High School, first time Hoops participant and brother of Deon. Devonte is looking forward to sharing is love (and skills) of basketball with the children in Guatemala.

Elvis--rising junior at Wilson Sr. High School, first-time Hoops participant and brother of Mit'hat. Besides looking forward to having his skills on the basketball court, we're also wondering whether he'll show up with a mohawk or not.

Imani--rising junior at Montgomery Blair High school and two-time Hoops participant. Imani was on her basketball team at school this year, so we're looking forward to seeing her more on the court this summer.

Jamal--attended Wilson Senior High School and is a first-time Hoops participant. With about 10 minutes to go till the office closed, Jamal finally got his passport on Friday and now we're glad to have his infectious laughter on the trip.

Jerren--attended Bell Multicultural High School and is a two-time Hoops participant. After taking a year off from Guatemala, Jerren is back with us this year. The cart vendors in the market have been forewarned to stock-up!

Jerrod--graduate of the School of Hard Knocks and two-time Hoops participant. Having purchased all the salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and hot sauce that he can carry, Jerrod is ready for a second year in Guatemala.

Jordyn--rising junior at Paul VI and three-time Hoops participant. It's going to mean a bit less time on Facebook, but we know that Jordyn is really looking forward to coming back to Guate this if we could just get the Momma to come...

Justine--rising senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy and first-time Hoops participant. Justine is looking forward to seeing a way of life outside of Southeast D.C.

Kaybria--rising sophomore at Paul VI and first-time Hoops participant. Kaybria (aka KK)is looking forward to improving her Spanish and enhancing her leadership abilities.

Malik--is a rising junior at Wilson High School and first-time Hoops participant. Now that his passport has finally arrived, we're very excited to have Malik with us. We suspect he'll learn the bus routes in Xela before anyone else.

Mindy--graduate West Virginia University and six-time Hoops participant. Stat Girl has a new notebook and spent the spring co-ed league season working on her stat-taking abilities.

Mit'hat--graduate of Luke Seymour High School and four-time Hoops participant. Mit'hat is back with us for one last time before adulthood sets in and we are looking forward to his goat herding skills and three-point shot.

Nate--attended Wilson High School and is a first-time Hoops participant. Nate lives in Adams Morgan and has never traveled before so he's looking forward to a new experience.

Sam, graduate Wilson High School and UMass. DCPS math teacher, six-time Hoops participant. After taking a year off, Sam is back and ready for a Super Chivos game...He'll be teaching English in the mornings and of course coaching at Xejuyup.

Shaq--graduate of Maya Angelou Public Charter School and three and a half-time Hoops participant. Shaq is back with us this year after having to leave early and we're glad he join us...and Stat Girl swears she didn't shrink the uniforms.

Stan--graduate Wilson High School and Michigan State. Stan currently works for a large public charity and will only be with us for three weeks this year, but we're glad for that time and Bryan is glad his rolls are safe for at least part of the trip.

Tyler--is a rising junior at Elizabeth Seaton, two-time Hoops participant and will celebrate her sweet 16th with us this year in Guatemala.... This is going to call for something more than Albamarl. At least it will save her parents a few weeks of car insurance!