‘Crossover’ gala: Students, benefactors form winning team


The student-athletes of Crossover Mission brought their ‘A’ game to the eighth annual Home Court Advantage Gala at Oak Harbor Club to celebrate the recent accomplishments of the nonprofit, which supports students through year-round basketball training and academic mentoring.

Before dinner, the Crossover Student Dribble Team showcased their skills and ability to work together as a team by dribbling with lighted basketballs to a mashup of powerful music.

Cathy De Schouwer, Crossover co-founder and executive director, announced that they had just obtained their “long-awaited building permit,” which will enable them to proceed with the construction of the Darlene W. Ryder Center for Academics and Training.

The facility will be a space where “students will bond with mentors, learn to excel in school, and shape their future dreams,” she explained.

Tom and Darlene Ryder had announced the Ryder Challenge Grant earlier this year, committing to match new contributions up to $500,000.

“Tom Ryder and his wonderful wife, Darlene, fully understand the importance of our work. Their own experiences shaped their lives and beliefs,” said De Schouwer.

Tom Ryder recalled the reaction Darlene had after her first visit to the facility.

“She believes that Antoine’s dream is something special,” said Ryder, referencing Crossover co-founder Antoine Jennings. “The combination of athletics and academics in the right environment will change the lives of the boys and girls in the program.”

Directing his comments to the student-athletes, Ryder said that while the chances that they would become professional athletes were slim, the experiences they will acquire from playing sports will assist them in other aspects of life.

Ryder said they will learn teamwork, the power of commitment and dedication, how to work hard and practice, the value of supporting their teammates and following orders, and the importance of showing up on time.

“You will practice those things at Crossover every day and become good at them. And those will become incredibly important traits you will use for the rest of your life. They will make you, by themselves, different and better,” said Ryder, noting that those same virtues should be applied to academics as well.

“You will be a rare person in the real world. You might not become a professional athlete, but I’ll bet you will become a professional,” he added.

Ryder quoted hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take.”

“Crossover can be your shot. Take it,” said Ryder.

“Antoine and I stand together with all our differences as equals at the helm of Crossover Mission. We are Black and white, male and female, and despite our startling different backgrounds and perspectives, we remain deeply like-minded in the mission and stand as proof that it can be done,” said De Schouwer.

“That we can work together, we can be brothers and sisters in peace, in business, in education and creative thought. We can and must unify to improve the situation of young people in our community,” she continued.

Referencing their 2022 accomplishments, De Schouwer said that 96 percent of participants maintained a minimum GPA of 2.0, with 69 percent of those maintaining a 3.0 or higher; that 98 percent stayed out of the juvenile justice system and that there is no known gang involvement.

She noted that Crossover Mission has raised 50 percent of their $6.5 million Home Court Advantage Capital Campaign, noting, “Our capital campaign is essential to renovating our new home into the Crossover Center for Excellence.”

For more information, visit crossovermission.com.

Photos by Stephanie Labaff

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