By Caroleine James
Wrangell Sentinel 

Here's the tipoff: Celebrity team coming to Wrangell

 

February 8, 2023 | View PDF



Communities without 70,000-seat stadiums don’t often get visits from professional athletes, but later this month Wrangell will become an exception to the rule. Players from Team Hollywood celebrity streetball will visit Feb. 21 to share inspirational messages — and play sports — with students and community members through Wrangell Cooperative Association (WCA) funding.

Tribal Administrator Esther Aaltséen Reese of the WCA invited the organization to town after a conversation with Tanana Chiefs Conference member Donald Charlie at the Association of Alaska School Boards conference. After Charlie described the Team Hollywood program to Reese, she decided that “it sounded like a wonderful program that would be really beneficial to Wrangell” and reached out.

Before founding his celebrity streetball team in 1999, Team Hollywood President Peter Adams was a sports manager for former NBA players, former NFL players, and members of the Harlem Globetrotters, an exhibition basketball team. He compared the job to Tom Cruise’s role in “Jerry Maguire,” a 1996 film about a struggling sports agent that features the famously quotable lines “help me help you,” “you had me at ‘hello’” and “show me the money!”


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These days, however, Adams’ focus has shifted from money to mission. “I decided that I wanted to do more mentorship, more giving back, more helping students in crisis than just basketball,” he said.

During his conversations with Reese, he recounted how Team Hollywood got started. After Globetrotters shows, “(Adams) would see kids outside waiting to get autographs,” she recalled. “He would ask them how they liked the show and they would tell him they can’t afford to go in.” He designed the Team Hollywood program with these youth in mind, creating “a program that was about more than just sports, that had a positive message, and have it open to all,” Reese said.


The team’s motto? Access to success no matter your ZIP code, said Adams. The group takes pride in visiting communities that are out of the typical professional athlete’s way, like Acuña in northeastern Mexico and Karluk, Alaska, a community of 37 on Kodiak Island. “The village that has 10 kids, we give them the same show as the city that has 3,000 people that come to our game,” he said.


Maurice “Mo” Woodard, actor and international football player, Tommy Adams of the NBA summer league, and Roman Adams, a professional soccer player in Columbia, are scheduled to attend the Wrangell event. They will share inspirational messages about self-esteem, anti-bullying, avoiding substance abuse and the importance of academic achievement with the community’s youth.

They will also hold a free-throw contest, a three-point contest, and play Wrangell student athletes three on three. The exact details of the rest of the event’s programming are meant to be a surprise, but Team Hollywood has requested that WCA provide basketballs, dodgeballs, a small classroom garbage can and a tarp — make of that what you will. “I’m really interested and excited to see what the show is going to look like,” said Reese.

Bringing the show to Wrangell is part of “the tribe’s effort to continue to promote health and wellness in our community,” said Reese. “Both mental and physical health.”

The WCA council approved the visit on Jan. 6. It was funded through the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium “healthy is here” program.

“Our youth are a precious commodity,” Reese continued, “and anything we can do to help them is definitely worthwhile. I’m really excited to have the athletes come and experience our wonderful community and introduce them to our culture. I think they’re really going to enjoy their time.”

There will be three shows: One for elementary school students, one for middle and high school students and another for the public. The public show will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the high school gym. Seating is free of charge and on a first come, first served basis.

 

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