STEUBENVILLE - The local youth basketball team Let's Play Ball is organizing two upcoming events area residents won't want to miss.
Dance teams from all over the Tri-State Area will perform in the center court of the Fort Steuben Mall at 1 p.m. Saturday, and an NBA 2014 Video Game Shoot-Out will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on June 7 at the same location.
Dancers will include Barkhart Dancers, Laughlin Chapel and Generation of Steppers, all from Wheeling. Brenda Casey, In God's Hands and Real Mine Boys, all from Steubenville, as well as students of Lisa Ensell, Sign of Hope of Weirton, and Serita Jett will also be participating.
PRACTICE?TIME — Members of Let’s Play Ball practicing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Steubenville were, front, from left, Shyheem Richmond, Santonio Brown, Kyjuan Stevenson, Ahjian Brown, Nazaiah Hawkins, Emery Elroy and Joseph Jones; and back, Robert Goncalves, head coach Bob Platt, Joseph Harrison, Jeff Osbourne, Jacob Greathouse, Tiyanz Drake, Josh Wagner, assistant coach Kurt Lawson, organizer and supervisor Regina Blanchard. “Let’s Play Ball aims to take kids off the street and produce a positive mindset of ‘yes I can.’ We want to replenish the community and make a difference in the city we live in,” Blanchard said. -- Shae Dalrymple
Tables from organizations like the Urban Mission, D.A.R.E. Program, Advocates for Children, the ALIVE shelter and more will be set up at the dance show for guests to peruse.
"It's an effort to bring the community together and let the youth speak to them through dance," said Regina Blanchard, event organizer and supervisor of Let's Play Ball. "We are an inner city basketball team, ages 7 through 17. Our team is all boys who have a passion for basketball, but who have sometimes been held back by struggles at home. The goal of Let's Play Ball is to bring structures and principles into the lives of our youth, because working with them is one way to promote productive living in our community."
The video game tournament will cost $5 per entry, and NBA 2014 will be played on either the PlayStation or XBox console. Rules and gameplay will be determined by the number of participants. Entry forms for pre-registration will be appearing in The Herald-Star and can be mailed to: Regina Blanchard, Apartment 305, 153 N. Fifth St., Steubenville, OH 43952. They also will be available at the customer service kiosk in the mall. Those interested in signing up are encouraged to pre-register to ensure they get a spot in the competition.
Sponsors for the events include Fort Steuben Mall, Dick's Sporting Goods, Steve's Fish and Chips, Johnny's Tire Mart, Thrifty Car Rental, Create-A-Room, Aaron's Rentals, Game Stop, DiCarlo's Pizza and Tina Smith.
Staff from the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times' GamerShowdown will be on hand to provide tech support and help run video game station terminals. GamerShowdown will be holding itssecond video game tournament in mid-September, and they hope to center it on the newest release of Madden football.
"Most of the kids in this group come from low-income families, and most are receiving government assistance just to survive. This is our second year of operation. Last year we struggled to get by, and this year we are looking for ways of funding to provide transportation for team members. There will be 10 games in Wheeling this year. Renting vans is the best means of transportation, but we need money to do that," Blanchard said. "In just one year we have 35 kids participating, 35 kids who have goals and know they are winners, thanks to this team. We still have a long way to go, but without the support of the community, this cannot be done. These kids have hungry minds looking for something to focus on. They need our help. Together we can change lives through mentor programs. When you get the children involved you draw in the parents as well and help train their minds. We all have a part in getting our community back, and nothing is impossible. Please help us by coming to support our youth."