VERO BEACH – Community leaders from all over Indian River County united Saturday afternoon at the Freshman Learning Center to raise money and sharpen their basketball skills. They are participating in a game to raise money for the Florida Comets AAU Basketball program of Indian River County.
The Harlem Ambassadors are coming to town Feb. 20 to face off against the Indian River County All-Stars at 6 p.m., in a charity basketball event for the ages at Vero Beach High school.
The roster is chock full of the best local athletic talent (former NFL star Kenny Holmes and former UCF football player Matt Parris) and community members (Sheriff Deryl Loar and TV 10’s Todd Wood).
“Anytime community leaders and former athletes – both college and professional – can give back to the youngsters of Indian River County, it is wonderful,” said Loar. “The dollars we receive offset some of (the Comets’) expenses, but a majority of the dollars goes to further their scholarships for college. We have some amazing talent on this team.”
Honorary Indian River County All-Stars coach Bill Curtis agreed.
“I am convinced that we have the best talent available in the Treasure Coast to play against (the Harlem Ambassadors),” said Curtis. “I’ve really been impressed with some of these guys out here today, and I think everybody will be surprised at how well they do.”
One of those players is former Vero Beach High School Football standout Drew Fallis.
“I was a little apprehensive about playing these guys to tell you the truth,” Fallis said. “I still don’t know what to expect, but it was good to hear that there aren’t any seven-footers on their roster.”
The format of the game will consist of competitive play in the first and third quarters, with the second and fourth quarters being played for show.
The Ambassadors are led by player-coach Sandi “Lade Majic” Prophete, a former Kodak All-American honorable-mention selection at University of Missouri in 1989. Prophete has been with the Ambassadors since 1998, where she has helped promote racial understanding and encouraged youths to stay in school and off of drugs.
According to Indian River All-Stars committee member Larry Hiegel, each All-Star paid either $2,000 or $250 for their spot on the team.
“That raised the money,” said Hiegel. “Now we’re going to sell another 2,000 tickets for the game at the high school. Our goal is to provide these children an outlet for their athletic talents so they can go to college.”
Florida Comets Coach Dr. Bennie Shaw, a former UCF standout and ninth-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, is the coach behind the entire Comets program. He runs a strict program complete with behavioral expectations and a minimum grade point average requirement.
“College coaches don’t have to worry about bad grades or behavior out of our kids when they come watch us play,” said Shaw. “If they see a kid in a Comet uniform, they are looking at a great kid who gets good grades. You must maintain a 3.0 G.P.A. the first year and a 3.2 G.P.A. each year afterward.”
General Admission tickets are $10 and VIP seating is $25. They are available for purchase at the Law offices of Block, Block and Pegler, Bobby’s Auto Service Center, Christi’s Family Fitness, Fellsmere Boys and Girls Club, Marine Bank and Trust, and at Master’s Academy.
Call (772) 257-4930 for more information.