TISHOMINGO, OK - The Murray State College Fieldhouse in Tishomingo will play host to a basketball exhibition of a much different kind when the Harlem Ambassadors come to town later this month.
The Ambassadors – a renowned team of professional players known for its high-flying slam dunks, dazzling ball-handling tricks and hilarious comedy routines – will be in Tishomingo to play against a team of local players on Feb 25.
The game, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. that evening, is being co-sponsored by Pennington Creek Lifehouse LLC and the Tishomingo Lions Club.
Advance tickets are available for $8 for adults, $5 for students; tickets at the door will be $10 for adults, $5 for students. Children 4 and under will be admitted free. Tickets may be purchased from any Tishomingo Lions Club member or are available at the Capital-Democrat, Tishomingo Quick Mart, Maxey Insurance, Landmark Bank, BancFirst and Houser Furniture in Tishomingo.
All proceeds will go to help the Tishomingo Lions Club continue their funding for such groups as the local Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs, and the Pee-Wee Football program among others.
The Lions Club also helps provide funding for Reaching Out, Leadership Johnston County and the Johnston County Junior Livestock Association; as well as the maintenance fund for the Johnston County War Memorial.
Two lucky audience members will be selected to take part in a $10,000 “Hoop Shoot” contest at halftime. Tickets for the contest will be available at the door on game night at a cost of $2 per ticket, John Sikes, Tishomingo Lions Club president, said. Also available at the door will be tickets for a drawing for an autographed basketball. Cost is $1 per ticket.
Prior to the game, in keeping with the team’s philosophy of combining hardcourt fun with a positive message for young people, the Ambassadors will be hosting a pair of afternoon workshops for Johnston County students from kindergarten to the eighth grade.
“These workshops center around the message ‘Stay in school, stay off drugs',” Sikes said. “OG&E is covering the cost of these programs, and we’re grateful that they have chosen to partner with us as well.”
The Ambassadors set themselves apart from other “Harlem-style” basketball teams by working with local not-for-profit and service organizations and holding shows as community fundraising events.
The Ambassadors have worked extensively with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and American Red Cross, as well as Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs in communities throughout the U.S.
The teams performs more than 200 shows a year and have helped raise millions of dollars.
Since forming in 1998, the Harlem Ambassadors – whose members hail from all across the country – have shared their message through show basketball in 2,200 shows across 23 different countries.
“We bring a fun, clean game of ball,” said Ambassadors coach and performer Sandie Prophete, who goes by the nickname “Lade Majic.” “At our shows, we want the kids to know that they’re part of our team too; we invite as many kids as we can to come sit on the bench, have a front row seat during the show, and get involved in all of the fun stuff we do.”
The team’s message of saying no to drugs and the importance of obtaining an education is equally important to Prophete. While growing up in New York and New Jersey, she said, she saw a lot of youth fall into drugs and lack of education and became dedicated to putting a stop to it.
So seriously does Prophete take the “stay in school” message that team members who play one full season with the Ambassadors and haven't graduated from college, or who are not taking classes toward that goal, are terminated.
"I don't want to be a hypocrite about my message," she said.
For more information about the Harlem Ambassadors, visit www.harlemambassadors.com, or call (580) 371-3238 or (580) 320-8053.