By Taylor Campos
If you had the opportunity, wouldn’t you want a professional basketball team to come to your school and perform for you and all your friends? Well, now you can!
On October 29th the Harlem Wizards came to my school, Marlboro Middle School, Marlboro, NJ, to play against the school faculty and administration, and I had an exciting opportunity to interview some of the players, teachers, and cheerleaders.
Earlier that same day the Harlem Wizards were at Marlboro Middle School standing outside and inside the cafeterias talking to students and getting them excited about that evening’s game. As the students walked to their lunch period in the cafeteria, they were surprised to see the basketball players stopping them and making conversation about the game and how they felt their teachers were going to play.
One player named Swoop (6’7 ft tall!), stole my lunch from right on top of my binder! It created many laughs around the lunchroom. After jumping several times to reach my lunch being held about eight feet above my head, Swoop returned my lunch with a wide smile spread across his face.
Swoop was then in the cafeteria going from table to table getting the students excited for the game with his sly moves and great sense of humor. His positive attitude and his energy were infectious to everyone around and made not only mine; but everyone else’s day a bit more exciting!
It was amazing to meet the Harlem Wizards; they were so quick and tricky and friendly as they teased us all in good fun.
You could see it in the teacher’s faces that they were excited and thrilled that they were going to be playing against the Harlem Wizards. During the day, teachers wore bright blue shirts that said “The Oz”. The reason for the teachers’ shirts saying “The Oz” was because they were playing against the Wizards and if you put the two words together it sounds something like “The Wizard of Oz”!
Our principal Pat Nieliwocki explained how such an event brought everyone together
in a team effort.
"While we have had many programs in the past, this one brought the entire school community together. Students were excited to see their teachers that night as basketball team members, cheerleaders, referees and photographers, and running concession stands. Almost a month later, students are still talking about how much fun they had!, she said.
As I was interviewing some of the teachers who were our players and cheerleaders I couldn’t help but notice that they were all very confident that Marlboro Middle School was going to win against the Wizards. The teachers held practices after school to prepare for the game.
Many of the teachers such as Mrs. Libenson (a sixth grade literature teacher) had background experiences in sports including softball, basketball, volleyball, and tennis.
Mr. Henry and Mr. Conkling are also two teachers at Marlboro Middle School. Mr. Henry (Physical Education) stated to the students, “Always give one hundred percent no matter what your doing, sports, school, or family life.”
Mr. Conkling’s (seventh grade science teacher) inspiring message is “work hard, stay in school, study, play hard, play fair, and have a good time doing it.“ Mr. Jay (Athletic Director) was excited to play against the Wizards.
Mr. Jay stated that “the Marlboro Middle School had a strong lineup against the Wizards”. Mr. Jay has no background experience playing basketball, yet he was still confident about facing the Wizards.
While interviewing the cheerleading team, it was intriguing to find out that not all of the teachers had any background experience in the sport! Mrs. Sabbagh (sixth grade science teacher) tells me “I cheered for twelve years.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Scalici informed us, “I have always wanted to cheer but didn’t feel that I was flexible enough to do some of the risky stunts.”
That evening, when the MC introduced the players, the crowd of 850 students and families was not only amazed by the height of the Wizards, but by their enthusiasm to entertain. The game was hysterical and thrilling to watch and full of surprises and was a lot of fun for the teachers and the audience. The look on their faces and the cheers of the crowd charged the atmosphere for the Harlem Wizards. Everyone in the audience laughed and had a great time. We couldn’t wait to see what goofy moves they were going to pull on our teachers next!
The physical talents and teamwork between the players was so amazing! They had so much grace; it looked like a well rehearsed dance.
Having the Wizards perform at our school was so much fun and in my opinion, the best decision Marlboro Middle School PTO has ever made. The event was in planning since June and the PTO Event Chairs; Jennifer Goldstein and Yvette Monaco, were thrilled about its tremendous success and the support from the school staff and district administration.
Team players not only included the teachers, but also the Assistant Principal, Mr. James McCann, the Superintendent of the school district, Dr. David C. Abbott, and the Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Marc Gaswirth.
Yvette Monaco added, “Our main goal outside of raising funds was to bring unity to the school for students, teachers and parents, rejuvenate school spirit, and help create memories for everyone in attendance that would last a lifetime.”
Do yourself and your school a favor and talk to your school or parents about having the Harlem Wizards perform at your school! You won’t be sorry!
The Harlem Wizards would like you to preview our new :30 second commercial. Scenes include footage from our performance this summer at Madison Square Garden as well as a shoot in Harlem in front of the Apollo Theatre.