The Harlem Ambassadors basketball team rolled into Cortez and gave locals of all ages a memorable evening of comedy and human highlight reels.
Krystal Jackson, Nigel Hale-Bryant, Chris Senoga-Zake, Julia Hargrove, Bryant Dunn and Curtis Stephens III faced the Montezuma Mavericks on Saturday night at a packed Montezuma-Cortez High School gym.
All proceeds benefited the Cortez Cultural Center. The Cultural Centers executive director, Brenda Hindmarsh, was pleased that a great amount of people showed up.
The turnout looked great. There was more than the last time we had it, Hindmarsh said. This is a little bit different of an event to come to Cortez. We dont get events like this that often. It gives the Cultural Center an opportunity to bring something different to the community. We have a little bit of fun in the process, too.
The Cultural Center plans to bring in the Fort Collins-based Harlem Ambassadors every two years, Hindmarsh said.
The Ambassadors surprised, teased, wowed and had fun with the crowd and the Mavericks through their antics. But with plenty of points spotted to the hometown Mavericks, The Ambassadors, as expected, prevailed 92-64.
Its just a lot of fun. Theyre such neat and wonderful young people, Jack Schuenenmeyer of the Mavericks said about The Ambassadors. They stress the value of education and good sportsmanship. Theyre just great role models. Its great for the Cortez Cultural Center and an important part of this community. Anything that we can do to help them is also very valuable.
The Harlem Ambassadors put their athletic ability on full display with monster dunks, stellar passes and most exceptional ball handling. Many of The Ambassadors were college athletes and earned college degrees. To be an Ambassador, one must have a degree or be in the process of attaining one. The Harlem Ambassadors are also drug free and express those important values to children. Stay in school and dont do drugs.
Thats what I look for is they do it for the kids, the Mavericks Orly Lucero said about The Ambassadors. I think it builds them (kids) up and make them stronger, and keeps them more concentrated on school, too.
The Harlem Ambassadors have two teams, one that travels west of the Mississippi River and one that travels east of North Americas largest river. Because of the constant travel, The Ambassadors like a home-cooked meal in each town provided to them to stay in game shape. The Ambassadors also really enjoy performing in small towns along the way.
Small towns are always the best to perform for because theyre more loving and more welcoming to you, Jackson said. Sometimes we go to small towns and its hard to leave because they just welcome you so much.
Kids are The Ambassadors biggest admirers, and every basketball, poster or T-shirt will be signed at the end of each game. After all, children are heavily influenced at their young age.
We want to inspire the kids to stay in school and stay drug free. We just want to bring joy to their lives, Hale-Bryant said. We live in a society where thats not really stressed too much. We want to make sure we get that message across, so maybe we can change the world one by one. Thats important for us.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at [email protected]