Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hoops Sagrado vs. D'Antoni

A very good friend of ours is a teacher at D'Antoni, a private school in the coastal town of Reu. Each year as part of their anniversary celebrations, Hoops spends the morning at D'Antoni playing a couple of basketball games and signing autographs.

The Young Guns were the first group up and we weren't really sure what to expect since D'Antoni's team was made up of students, alumni and a couple of teachers. But proving that age and size don't matter, the Young Guns proved victorious with Shanice making her scoring debut!

Young Guns 52 vs. D'Antoni 32
Brandon 18p/1a/10r
Jailen 12p/2a
Gibril 5p/1a/4r
Manny 3r/2a
Phillip 13p/10r
Antar 1r
Shanice 3p/2r
Canethia 1r

The Old Heads played another selection team from Reu (different from the one they played back at the beginning of the trip and although it was close in the beginning, the Old Heads quick go ahold of things and put the game away.

Old Heads 50 vs. Reu 42
Bryan 13p/4a/2r
Sam 2p/3a/5r
Aniekan 6p/1a/1r
Diggs 3p/5r
Dario 11p/3a/11r
Josh 8p/6r
Stan 7p/1a/4r
Phillip 1/1r

A Day at the Beach

Friday was a day at the beach for Hoops Sagrado.

After playing a couple of games at a school in Reu (game posts coming soon), we boarded Marisol for the 45 minute trip to Champerico, a small town on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.

Unfortunately, it seems like the municipal government in the coastal area of Guatemala was taking lessons from D.C. (no offense to all of our friends who work for DDOT) because the potholes in the road to the beach were outrageous. Our normal 45 minute trip took about 90 minutes because you can't hit those suckers too hard...To say they are in need of a potholepalooza would be putting it mildly.

We finally got to the beach and it was clearly just what the doctor ordered for everyone. After more than two weeks of Spanish classes, hard work in the basketball camps, basketball games and just learning a new country, everyone needed the break and everyone seemed to have a really good time.

The group spent the afternoon eating seafood fresh from the ocean (literally brought in via the pier about half a mile down the beach) and playing in on the black-sand beaches and in the warm Pacific.

After a full day and with the sun setting, bonfires burning on the beach and lightening in the distance we packed up headed back to the cooler climate of Xela.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spanish Classes

One of the main components of the Hoops Sagrado program (besides basketball of course) is one-on-one Spanish immersion classes for the students. Each morning from 8am to 1pm, with a 30 minute break around mid-morning, the students study at MesoAmericas Spanish school in Xela. We also really encourage the students to get away from their desks and explore Xela with their teachers.

Although the five horus of class time is proving to be a bit difficult for some of the students this year, most have made the effort to show up relatively on time and pay attention to their teacher. If you listen carefully you can even hear some of them use their newly acquired Spanish-language skills in the afternoon basketball camps.

The students took their first tests last Friday and overall the results were quite good. One student even commented that he wished he had studied this much last year when he didn't pass his Spanish class!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Saturday Night Soccer

Hoops Sagrado is a basketball program. For the five weeks we are in Guatemala we pretty much eat, breath and sleep basketball. However, for two hours at some point during the five weeks, we take a break from basketball and enjoy "the beautiful game."

Xela's professional soccer team, the Super Chivos, has won four national championships throughout the years and is one of the better professional teams in the country. On this Saturday night they were playing Marquense, a rival from San Marcos. The game was fairly typical of La Liga Nacional with some goals, a lot of bad passing, a lot of diving, numerous yellow cards, two red cards and a fight. In the end Xela tied 2-2. Not a loss, but a win sure would have been nice.

This was the first professional soccer game that many of the Hoops students had ever attended and we sure did pick a good one. The stadium was absolutely rocking (probably due to the two for one ticket deal that night). Our seats were at one end of the stadium that is known for it's raucous cheering. There are two large suppport groups for the Super Chivos. One is sorta like DC United's Screaming Eagles and the other is like the Barra Brava. We sat with the Super Chivos Barra Brava.

We're never totally sure how the Hoops students will react to the soccer game, but they usually have a pretty good time. I would say (and I think based on the photo with this post) that this group of students embraced the experience probably more than any other group we've taken to a game.

While basketball will always be the focus of Hoops Sagrado and the students we bring to Guatemala, we may have just gotten a soccer convert or two out of this experience.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hoops Sagrado vs. Totonicopan

Following a busy week of classes and camps (more to come about those in a future post), we boarded the bus amid a Friday night rain storm for the quick trip to Totonicopan for a couple of games.

We've talked about the uneven officiating in multiple posts and for multiple years, but the officiating on this chilly Friday evening really took the cake--especially in the Young Guns game. The Young Guns game was fairly close throughout with the team winning by as many as six and training by as many as seven throughout. With time running out (literally 7 seconds) Shaq hit three critical free-throws to tie the game at 60. Toto took the ball down court and got a shot off as time was running out, but the ball didn't go in. Then after the whistle on the scoreboard rang out indicating the game had ended in a tie and we would head to overtime, another whistle could be heard indicating a foul.

It's hard to argue with the hometown ref (and believe us, Bryan and Sam tried), but Toto was awarded two free throws with no time left on the clock. They made one. The Young Guns were without a doubt disappointed, but after the initial frustration wore off about the loss, they became a bit philosophical about the whole thing.

Young Guns 60 vs. Totonicopan 61
Shaq 12p/5a/3r
Brandon 15p/3a/7r
Malik 7p/1a/8r
Jailen 14p/1a
Gibril 9p/2a/2r
Manny 3p/1r
Phillip 2a/5r

The Old Heads game was far less controversial (a 40 point difference helps in this case). Hoops alumn and partner Stan Turner arrived in Guate on Friday in time for the Toto game and the Old Heads were also joined by yet another Jeff who is here in Xela studying Spanish and living in the same house as some of the students.

Old Heads 77 vs. Totonicopan 32
Bryan 10p/4a/3r
Sam 2p/4a/4r
Aniekan 10p/4r
Dario 24p/3a/18r
Josh 18p/5r
Stan 4p/2a/3r
Diggs 1a/2r
Phillp 8p/1r
Jeff 3p/1a/4r

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Hoops Sagrado took our first field trip today with the whole group loading up on Marisol and heading to the home of a local weaver and craftsman in Momostenango.

The visit to Momos is always one of the highlights of the trip. The students learn about how many of the handicrafts in Guatemala--blankets, wall hangings, scarves, hats, etc. are made using an ages old process and all natural materials.

After trying their hands at spinning the wool, the students are invited to the family side of the house where they are served fresh tortillas hot off the fire and have an opportunity to purchase some of the handicrafts. Don't be surprised if come winter, you see some snazzy wool hats on the heads of a number of Hoops participants.

San Cristobal Tournament Part One

If it's raining, it must be the San Cristobal tournament! And of course this year was no different, but when we rounded the bend on the way to the court, what to our wondering eyes should appear? A new court covered with a roof and lighting! No more would the summer rains of Guatemala postpone games in San Cristobal!

That being said of course, we arrived for our 3pm game which did not start for another hour and 15 minutes.

The Young Guns were up first agains the San Cristobal selection team. Despite the fact that the San Cris team is made up of a few professional players and players who are at least twice the age of the Young Guns, the Hoops players gave them a run for their money. Unfortunately, despite an amazing three quarters, the Young Guns couldn't pull off the upset. We'll chalk it up to travel fatigue and altitude adjustment.

Young Guns 51 vs. San Cris 67
Shaq: 19p/1a/3r
Brandon: 6p/4a/9r
Malik: 12p/7r
Jailen: 8p/2a/2r
Gabril: 3p/5a/3r
Manuel: 3p/1a
Phillip: 1a/5r
Antar: 1r

The Old Heads fared better although even some of them were a bit gased by the altitude...and of course the questionable calls. Just like it's certain to rain most days in Xela, it is also pretty certain that just about every call is going to go against a Hoops Sagrado team.

Old Heads 63 vs. San Cris/Reu Old Heads 37
Bryan: 9p/5a/3r
Sam: 5p/4r
Aniekan: 4p/4a/7r
Dario: 18p/2a/13r
Josh: 8p/1a/6r
Diggs: 16p/8r
Phillip: 2p/2a/1r
Brandon: 4p/1a/1r

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoops Sagrado vs. Reu

We had barely gotten to the mountains of Guatemala when it was time to head to the coast for one of our first basketball games. Hoops Sagrado has a long history with the team from Reu including some very close and unfriendly games. The scorekeepers at Reu are also more than a bit creative with how they keep score.

Still, inspite of the heat and humidity (which probably feels just like D.C. right about now) and the creative refering and score-keeping, both the Hoops Young Guns and the Old Heads proved victorious.

Young Guns 55 vs. Reu 51
Shaq 12p/2a/3r
Brandon 19p/2a/17r
Malik 7p/7r
Gabril 6p/3a/2r
Jailen 12p/1a/4r
Manuel 2r
Phil 4a/3r

Old Heads 68 vs. Reu 42
Bryan 14p/8a/5r
Aniekan 2p/2a/9r
Sam 8p/5a/6r
Diggs 12p/1a/1r
Dario 23p/3a/8r
Josh 9p/7r
Phillip 1a
Brandon 2r

First Week

It's hard to believe that we have already been in Guatemala for one week. Apologies for not posting sooner, but it's been a whirlwind to say the least. Here are a few of the highlights (not inlcluding basketball games which will come in another post):

Everyone and all their luggage arrived on Wednesday the 13th and we spent two nights in the ancient capital of Antigua getting adjusted to life in Guatemala. Although most of the students know each other from D.C. the group quickly bonded over the learning experience of being in a foreign country and games of spades!

On the way from Antigua to Xela we stopped at the ancient Mayan ruins known as Iximche. It was a great opportunity for the students to learn a bit about the history of Guatemala and it was also a chance for all of us to continue to get to know each other.

Arriving in Xela
We arrived in Xela on Friday evening and all the students were assigned to their families. The houses are: 1)Phillip and Gibril; 2) Sam, Malik, Shaq and Manny; 3) Deon, Brandon, Jailen and Antar; 4)Brianna, Canethia, Kia and Shanice; and 5) Josh. Bryan has his own house this year that we are using as a de facto meeting place and jump off for other activities.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

T-minus 7 hours

In a bit more than 7 hours we will be in the air on our way to Guatemala.

Unfortunately we're still waiting for one passport, but we've been assured by the powers that be that it will be available in the morning and therefore the student will be able to join us in Guatemala on the 14th. It's great that he will be able to join us, but the fact that he is arriving a day late is a disgrace.

Still despite the hurdles, we're excited to be on our way. Our first game is on the 14th at 8pm in Antigua. Jet lag be damned, we'll be ready to take on the the Antigua selection team and you can "tune in here" for all the stats and news from the game.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One week till wheels up

With one week to go till our trip the passports are still trickling in for volunteers. As of today we've got six still outstanding.

Getting a passport is one of the biggest challenges our youth volunteers face every year. While we understand the State Department's need to move cautiously with issuing passports to minors, they also make it pretty much next to impossible for young people who don't come from a traditional two-parent household. They also don't make it easy for people who have to work for a living to get a passport. It always seems to work out in the end but not without some tantrum throwing and hours upon hours spent in the passport office the day before the trip.

Cross your fingers, say a prayer and light a candle for San Simon that the outstanding six passports are all in-hand by 4:30am on the 13th!