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‘An awesome show’

Recent benefit game helps raise money for scholarships, charities

Published: 02:31PM November 10th, 2011
593rd 5


Hometown Heroes Nicole Hayman, right, a player with the 593rd Special Troop Bn., guards Tequila Martin during the Harlem Ambassadors professional show basketball game Nov. 5, at Capital High School in Olympia, Wash. The Ambassadors beat the Hometown Heroes 108-79.

OLYMPIA — Brooklyn versus Harlem would typically lead to an epic battle for New York City supremacy for Doug Levien, but on Saturday night, the Brooklyn native put his cross-town rivalry aside to play the Harlem Ambassadors in a friendly basketball game to raise money for scholarships and local charities.

The Harlem Ambassadors came to Capital High School and easily defeated the Hometown Heroes 108-79, but the packed gymnasium audience cared more about seeing dunks galore and laughing at the Ambassadors’ outrageous, though often very athletic antics.

Helping raise funds for the West Olympia Rotary were six Soldiers from the 593rd Special Troops Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade. Organizations and individuals associated with the West Olympia Rotary sponsored the “military six” the full $165 needed to participate in the game. It’s a testament to the importance of the Community Connections program that links the 593rd Sustainment Bde. to Olympia, Levien said.

Since March 2000, the Community Connections Program has been building ties with surrounding communities by partnering 15 major Army units with a local municipality. The program’s goals are designed to increase interaction between military and local communities, enhance understanding of the Army and JBLM and develop and maintain strong and positive community partnerships.

“The support and patriotism of the citizens down here in Olympia exhibits the level of respect for Soldiers in the community,” Levien said.

Also exhibiting military support are the Ambassadors, who have performed more than 300 shows in 120 countries for all the armed forces branches. From Japan to Iceland, Ambassadors’ players spread a message of goodwill and staying drug free to all who attend the game. “We are extremely proud of our relationship with the United States military,” said Ambassadors’ president Dale Moss.

The Hometown Heroes weren’t much of a match for the younger, faster, and more athletic Ambassadors. At one point, they had more scoring dunks than the Heroes had points. At various points of the game, the Ambassadors would stop play to entertain the crowd with an “act.”

Ambassadors rookie guard Te’Quila Martin led the show, messing with Heroes players by untying their shoes while trying to shoot a free throw or pinning a player through wrestling-type moves when the referee wasn’t looking.

The Hometown Heroes received a 31-point boost at halftime due to a scoreboard “malfunction.” The extra points aside, the Ambassadors poured on the points through the third quarter, outscoring the Heroes 32 to 12 to take a 10-point lead heading into the fourth. The final score ended in a lopsided win for the Ambassadors at 108-79, but the points didn’t compare to the amount of fun the Soldiers had playing in the game.

That’s what Heroes’ Nicky Hayman took away from the charity event, as she had missed playing organized basketball since graduating from Chapman University in Orange County, Calif., a year earlier. “Doing something like this is really cool,” Hayman said. “It was definitely an awesome show, and (the Ambassadors) are definitely good players.”

A commonly asked question of Ambassadors is how to become one. There are two rules to get on the team – be actively pursuing your college degree and be drug and alcohol free. “With 250 games in eight months, if you are on drugs or alcohol, you won’t be able to maintain throughout the tough schedule,” said Ambassadors’ Guard Tiffara Steward.

The 593rd is getting ready for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Intramural Basketball season to start, and used the game as an exhibition for upcoming league play. The unit runs a strenuous physical training program, and Levien, the special troops battalion commander, stressed servicemembers should participate in any competition possible. “We promote and support these types of events for our Soldiers,” Levien said. “Our guys are in great shape and had good exposure playing in front of the crowd.”

To Learn more

For more information about the Ambassadors, visit the website at www.harlem