BASKETBALL wizards The Harlem Globetrotters worked their magic with a mix of ball tricks and social skills when they bounced into a school hall in South Yorkshire - thanks to The Star.
Young fans at Gleadless Primary School in Sheffield won the visit in our competition, with letters saying it would bring more fun to their assemblies.
And that it did, writes Digital Editor Graham Walker.
Globetrotters stars Blenda Rodriguez and Flip Atkins gave a fun-packed demonstration of crazy finger-spinning ball tricks, games and skills which have wowed fans around the world.
But the ambassadors, visiting ahead of the team’s Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena show on Friday, March 23. also rolled out lessons for life.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report. Or watch this Harlem Globetrotters video on YouTube - CLICK HERE.
Blenda, aged 33, from New York, a former world number one basketball handler, told The Star: “We have a programme called CHEER. Each letter stands for something special in life - co-operation, health, effort, enthusiasm and responsibility. We tell the kids if you try hard you can be anything you want to be, even a Harlem Globetrotter. Give it 110 per cent, aim for good grades. And say no to drugs.”
Newcomer Flip is aptly named. The 22-year-old thrilled children, teachers and visitors with his acrobatic feats. He told them he is one of 10 new signings, including the Globetrotter’s first female player in nearly two decades, Fatima “TNT” Maddox, shortest player in Globetrotter history, 5ft 2ins Jonte “Too Tall” Hall and the world’s tallest pro-basketball player, 7ft 8ins Paul ‘Tiny’ Sturgess, from Loughborough.
They follow in the footsteps of legends like Curly Neal, Meadow “Meadowlark” Lemon and Sweet Lou Dunbar.
Flip said: “I’m delighted to be part of the family. We love entertaining crowds in big arenas.
“But it’s more than just basketball. Also important for us is to visit schools around the world, making children laugh and giving them lessons for life.”
Sam Morley, aged 11, wrote asking for them to ‘bring some fun to our assemblies.’ He said: They were amazing. I definitely want to see them at the Arena.”
Sophie Rixham, 11, added: “They were fantastic.” And William Hancock, 11, said: “It was great to see their mind-blowing skills.”
Teacher David Atkinson, who got the children to enter, said: “I remember growing up watching the Harlem Globetrotters. It was amazing to see today’s stars in our school. They were wonderful.”
Head teacher Val Fowles added: “They showed off their basketball skills and their CHEER message was also fantastic. I intend to build on that in school.”
* Tickets to see The Harlem Globetrotters at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena on March 23, 2012, are £12.50, £19, £25 and £40 - may be subject to booking fee. Buy in person, call 0114 256 5656 or book online at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk.