What’s the most popular sport in Indiana? Basketball. It’s rare to meet a Hoosier that doesn’t enjoy an exciting game of the sport. If you came to La Porte High School Monday night then you would have experienced an excellent game. It was the Harlem Ambassadors versus the La Porte Legends that evening, and let me tell you, readers, it was a one-of-a-kind game.
Rick Hise, an eighth grade social studies teacher and basketball coach at Kesling Middle School, was one of the La Porte Legends.
“They showed us how to play basketball correctly,” Hise laughed. “Really though, this is a great way to get the community involved and educate the kids on the importance of staying away from drugs and getting your education. It’s a really good message for the kids. I think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m not from around here so I got to meet many people from the community. It’s good to see people in the community doing the right thing and hopefully kids will see that and follow in their footsteps.”
The superintendent, principals, and teachers from the La Porte Community Schools formed a team -which was dubbed the La Porte Legends -to play against the Ambassadors. Each member of the La Porte Legends was sponsored by clubs and businesses in La Porte as well as some school PTA’s. This was not the Ambassadors’ first trip to the city. Two years ago, they came and played the Legends. Each year the team plays over 250 games all over the country.
The Harlem Ambassadors Basketball Team was created in 1998. The team travels all over the country delivering a unique and fun comedy routine while positive messages about family values, not using drugs and racial equality and harmony.
The night was filled with excitement, positivity, and laughter. A game was indeed played, but there were fun routines, games and antics played throughout the evening. The Ambassadors cracked jokes, danced, and performed impressive tricks with the basketball all while being cheered on by the rowdy crowds that filled the bleachers of the La Porte High School gymnasium. There was quite a bit of audience involvement, too. The Ambassadors frequently ran into the bleachers and playfully messed with the audience. During half-time all of the kids and both teams gathered on the gym floor and danced their hearts out to “Gangnam Style”. It was epic.
I caught a minute with the coach of the Harlem Ambassadors, Lade Majic Prophete. She has been with the Harlem Ambassadors since 1998. She has been able to speak to kids in 23 different countries and in all 50 states. I asked her why she does what she does.
“Sometimes adults forget about the dreams they had, so when they come to a Harlem Ambassadors event they remember what it’s like to just relax, sit back and just enjoy life, “ Prophete said. “There are a lot of struggles that adults go through, and sometimes you need that rest. You need to just breathe. I think it’s important to give back to them. God has blessed me tremendously. I know where I came from. I didn’t always have, and now that I have, it’s up to me to give back and reach somebody because that’s what we’re here to do.”
The Harlem Ambassadors program offers a message in a humorous and light-hearted way. How is that more effective than a serious approach?
“Humor reaches people more because sometimes people feel a little nervous about it or they’re uncomfortable talking about staying in school and staying off drugs and different things. They don’t know how to reach these young people. Young people know when you’re nervous, when you’re not upfront. They know when you’re sugar-coating it. I’m not a great sugar-coater,” Prophet laughed. “I’m just upfront and direct, and I know where my heart is and what God has placed in my heart to do. And if I ever hurt someone’s feelings it isn’t because I have any malice in my heart, it’s because I really want you to get it. I don’t want any of these children to be statistics.”
Any advice for someone who is at a crossroads and needs help to make the right decision that won’t lead them down a destructive path?
“If there was someone at a crossroads, I would tell them to reevaluate and rethink the decisions that they plan to make. Is it worth it? Is it worth your life? And it isn’t only affecting them, it’s affecting their family, their friends and their community,” Prophete said.
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Sponsors: 1st Source Bank; La Porte Savings Bank; Applegarth Dermatology; Garwood Orchards; Arnett Construction; The Siefker Family; Agape Church; Old Harrier Music; Edward Jones- Jon Salisbury; Newby, Lewis, Kaminski and Jones; Winn Machine, Inc.; Students and PTA of Kesling, Crichfield and Hailmann, Indian Trail, and Riley Schools; Kiwanis Club of La Porte; Rotary Club of La Porte; New Age Telecom; La Porte Insurance Agency- TJ Hague; Mark Kosier for School Board; Midwest Eye Consultants; Tom Dermody for Representative; Meridian Tile Corporation; Eye Associates, Inc.; L.D. Thornton and Associates; Alcoa/Howmet; La Porte Seamless Gutter.