Spurs rookies enjoy their first taste of community service

0

Rookie forward Jeremy Sochan arrived in San Antonio this summer, eager to do his part to uphold the Spurs tradition of community service.

“It’s always been important to me to give back and show love to the community,” the Baylor alum said.

Sochan and Spurs teammates Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley made their first official appearance in the community on Wednesday night, helping out at a basketball tournament for athletes aged 12 to 14 being held by Spurs’ Inclusive Sports League at Morgan’s Wonderland, the internationally recognized theme park for children with special needs.

All three Spurs are 19 and picked in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“It was really good to be here,” Branham said. “I was happy just to see the faces of the children.”

The Inclusive Sport League is a partnership between Spurs and Morgan’s Wonderland, under the leadership of Special Olympics South Texas. Its mission is to provide “education for young athletes of all levels while creating an inclusive community where they can play a sport they love, improve their skills and create memories”.

Sochan, Branham and Wesley assisted the Inclusive League coaching staff, led by David Smith, assistant men’s basketball coach at Our Lady of the Lake University. The three Spurs rookies also took part in drills, signed autographs and answered questions from the young athletes.

“Being a bit of a socialite and having been everywhere, I’ve always thought it was important to involve everyone and allow everyone to have the same experience as yourself,” said Sochan (pronounced So-Han ), born in Oklahoma to an American father and Polish mother and raised in Great Britain.

Benjamin Kelley (53) has fun with Our Lady of the Lake University coaches at the Spurs Inclusive Sports League at Morgan’s Wonderland on Wednesday August 17, 2022.

Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News/Staff Photographer

Participation in such activities is a rite of passage for young Spurs players after joining an organization that prides itself on being a good corporate citizen with an emphasis on social responsibility.

“The Spurs organization is bigger than basketball, and it’s through these moments that we create real impact by creating leaders and legacies with our youth, our city and our players,” Kara said. Allen, head of impact at Spurs Sports & Entertainment. oversees the community and societal impact of the franchise.

Spurs CEO RC Buford attended Wednesday’s event. At one point during a game, Buford rushed onto the field to deliver a congratulatory punch to a young athlete, shouting “Nice pass”.

“It sends a big message that we’re really important in community service,” Branham said of Buford’s involvement. “That’s why this franchise is what it is.”

Wesley has indicated he would be willing to follow in the footsteps of former Spur Derrick White, who made Morgan’s Wonderland and the Inclusive Sports League a personal cause to honor his special needs aunt.

Benjamin Kelley (53) and Olivia Garza (30) have their Spurs signed basketball shirts Coyote, left, and Spurs draft pick Blake Wesley, background, on a night of children's basketball in the Spurs Inclusive Sports League at Morgan's Wonderland on Wednesday August 17, 2022.

Benjamin Kelley (53) and Olivia Garza (30) have their Spurs signed basketball shirts Coyote, left, and Spurs draft pick Blake Wesley, background, on a night of children’s basketball in the Spurs Inclusive Sports League at Morgan’s Wonderland on Wednesday August 17, 2022.

Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News/Staff Photographer

“I had no idea it was here, but I’ll be back,” Wesley said of Morgan’s Wonderland. “It’s good to give back.”

Elicia Meairs, 17, is a student at John Paul Stevens High School on the West Side and a Paralympic track and field All-American in the United States.

Meairs said being around young Spurs players made him keen to take part in future Inclusive Sports League events.

“Spurs’ inclusive league is amazing,” Meairs said. “It allows people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities to actually participate in basketball. I love him so much.”

Sochan also left Morgan’s Wonderland motivated to do more.

“I want to be part of this community, a community I’ve wanted to be in for so long,” he said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @Tom_Orsborn

Share.

Comments are closed.