Tricks, Hoops and Alley Oops: Harlem Wizards bring the magic

Tricks, Hoops and Alley Oops. The Harlem Wizards brought the magic when they made a visit to Tennessee Tech’s Memorial Gym Sept. 23 for an event put on by the EXPW Major’s Club to raise money for Special Olympics.

The Harlem Wizards, who have been around since 1962, were looking to put smiles on people’s faces and make them laugh while getting them involved during their visit. They accomplished what they set out to do and have been doing for over 60 years.

Many notable members of faculty and staff participated in the event against the Wizards, including: Tech President Philip Oldham, Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Burnett, assistant women’s basketball coach and former player Allison Clark, among others.

The team they played for was called Dr. Bell’s “D” Row, named after current exercise science professor Jerry Bell who has been involved with helping Special Olympics for over 40 years. Bell coached the team during the game with the Harlem Wizards.

“It’s one of those things that I have never done anything like that. I’ve been to see the Globetrotters and events similar to this, but it was really fun to play in the game and be part of the show,” said Clark of her experience playing against the Wizards. “I got to reconnect with some former teammates and some former players that have played at Tech. It was a really good experience. I think Dr. Bell and Dr. Killman both did a great job, and I think it’s an event that can get bigger and bigger in the community.”

One of the biggest names to play in the game was Marc Burnett. He listed the reasons why he wanted to be involved in such an event to help the community and Special Olympics.

“It’s a great thing for charity and Special Olympics, so it was great to be a part of,” said Burnett. “You know, just keeping it fun out there and not being so competitive was the main thing. It felt good to just relax. You just don’t get these types of opportunities to play on a team with the president of Tech, faculty and students. The reason I competed in this event is because of charity. That was the main reason.”

This wasn’t the first time Burnett took part in an event like this, though. He said he played against the Harlem Magicians back in the day.

Christy Killman, chairwoman of the exercise science department and one of the many people responsible for putting together the event, had a lot of good things to say about the outcome of the event.

“It was awesome. We sold about 550 or so tickets. We had a lot of volunteers from classes, students who volunteered and people from our department. It was a great event. It was fun and it was funny even though it is a little hot in Memorial Gym. People did not seem to mind, and everyone seemed to have a good time and had a smile on their face. It’s like the Globetrotters, but everyone is more involved.”

When asked if this will be a one-time only event for the department, Killman said the Major’s Club always tries to have two or three service projects throughout the year and try to do things that give back to the community.

“Even though this was a little bit of work, I think it was well worth it, and Special Olympics is definitely a worthy endeavor to try to help financially, so I do that that we will do it again.”

The proceeds of the event are not yet sorted out, but Killman estimated it would be a few hundred dollars. “I’m not exactly sure how much, we still have a few things to take care of before we come up with an exact amount.”