Working for the Trail Blazers is great. We get to do cool stuff and see cool things (often a bit before the public). And of course there are the games. But working with the actual Trail Blazers, the mostly tall guys who play basketball for a living, is even better. When we go out with players to community appearances (reading assemblies, in particular) it is awesome to watch the effect the players have on the kids. The kids are often sitting somewhat nervously on a gym floor somewhere unsure of what exactly is about to happen. What they know is that Blaze is bouncing about and there is someone they likely have never seen before talking about reading. Then, as if on cue, a player springs into the gym. Pandemonium ensues until the next player comes out. The look in the eyes of the kids is more than cool and reminds us the impact we have in the community.
Last week, the Trail Blazers organization took Joel Freeland and Luke Babbitt to visit Beaver Acres Elementary for a Read to Achieve Assembly, sponsored by Kia Motors. Everything described above happened, plus more. While the kids were waiting for the other shoe to drop (a giant shoe in this case), Joel and Luke were waiting every bit as anxiously as the kids inside. The pressure of a game winning three point shot has nothing on a gym full of kids being entertained by a giant Trail Cat. When the players were introduced and they sprinted into the gym, the reaction of the kids was part adoration, part hysteria and part jubilation. In short, it was Bieberesque but without the bad haircut.
Joel and Luke, like their teammates, love community appearances, to get out and meet the fans who support them night in and night out. However, it means even more to them when they see the look on a kid’s face that is proud of all the reading hours they put in to be able to experience this. They get community. They get the importance of using basketball not just as means of exercise, excitement or entertainment. Here, the possibility of a Trail Blazers player or two coming to a school was enough to inspire them to read five more pages a day or to take two books home from the school library. It is great, too, for the organization that we have Kia, a Proud Partner of the Portland Trail Blazers, who get it. Thank you, Kia Motors, for helping to make it better.