(ST.JOSEPH, Mo.) Families across the community gathered at the Salvation Army gymnasium for the Sweetheart’s Tournament, it may not have had much to do with Valentine’s Day coaches said it's all about the love of the game of basketball.
"This is something I always wanted to do, I wanted to give back," Cecil Hawkins, a coach said.
Hawkins called the opportunity to be part of this tournament a blessing.
"This is my second year of coaching these guys," Hawkins said. "I added a couple more players."
Hawkins' team, the Tarheels, are part of a league of 128 basketball teams all around the community. His message is one of inclusion.
"We just welcome everybody, Hawkins said. "You don’t have to know how to play basketball, but we can teach you how to be young men and young women."
Parents said the program is a great way for their kids to socialize.
"It's great!" Christy Gomez, a parent said. [My son has] gained lots of friends and it's just a good interaction."
The gymnasium at the Salvation Army is also where the Tarheels meet regularly for practice,
"It’s great to give back to the community," Abe Tamayo, Salvation Army said. "To see the children excel, that’s the main goal we’re after."
Even though the Tarheels came up short losing in overtime. Coach Hawkins tells us he makes sure his kids see the bigger picture.
"I’m not about winning," Hawkins said. "I’m all about what have you learned, I want to get you ready for that next coach at the next level."
If his team can master that Hawkins said there’s no limit to what they can do.
"The sky’s the limit for these young men," Hawkins said.
For more information about enrolling a child into the league, parents can reach Coach Hawkins by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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