Everybody wins at hoops game

Published 10:27 pm Friday, June 15, 2012

Former Washington High School star wideout and current Kansas City Chief Terrance Copper (left) accepts a plaque from Director of Police and Fire Services Stacy Drakeford Friday night at Washington High School. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

It wasn’t supposed to be close, but in the end Terrance Copper and the NFL stars had to dig deep to hold off a late-charging Washington Police/Fire Dept. team in crunch time to hold on to a 100-95 victory.
While the two teams combined for nearly 200 points, the amount of smiles they put on faces was countless, as numerous fans flocked to Washington High School to watch Pam Pack alum, and current Kansas City Chief, Terrance Copper and his fellow NFLers take on the athletes from the Washington Emergency Services on Friday night.
The game was part of Project Next Step, a program put in place to help at-risk teens, and Copper and his crew were more than happy to support the cause.
Aside from Copper, former and current NFL players Vonta Leach, Dexter McCluster, Shaun Draughn, Jamar Newsome, Quentin Lawrence, Demane Duckett, Phoenix Evans, Travis Daniels, Chris Chambers, Zeke Markshuansen, Jason Hurton and Barry Richardson all met up at Washington High School to help support the cause despite the fact that they were just wrapping up minicamps on Friday.
“We just finished camp yesterday. We’re definitely tired, my legs are tired but this event is about the kids, it’s not about us,” said Copper, who along with his friends hung around after the game and happily signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans.
“It definitely feels good to come back home and give back to the community, and not just financially, but to spend time with them too. We want to show them that we do care and we are here for them.”
At halftime Copper handed out several gifts to fans and children in the audience and also participated in a trade with the Washington Director of Police and Fire Services Stacy Drakeford. From Drakeford, Copper received a plaque and in return the former Pam Pack star gave Drakeford a Kansas City Chiefs Jersey with the number seven on it, the same number he wore when he was scoring touchdowns for Washington High.
“I think it’s very important for us as a department to show how much we appreciate Terrance and the other NFL players who came out here and helped us start this program and reach these kids,” Drakeford said.
Drakeford stated that the hoops game offers the emergency services workers a chance to rub shoulders with the community in a non-work situation.
“For us, it gives us a chance to come out and intermingle with the community; not just when we’re writing tickets or showing up when things are bad,” Drakeford said. “This is just the first step. We want to show (the community) that we are their friends and we are here to help.”
Copper is no doubt here to help as well and said the event was significant.
“It means a lot when you have your police and fire departments behind the community 100 percent,” Copper said. “I’ve played at a lot of different places and this is my first time ever that I’ve seen the police department and the fire department put something on like this. This is not a usually thing and that’s something that I want the community to know.”
After the halftime festivities it was back to hoops. Team NFL held a 45-32 advantage at the break but the Emergency Services team, which featured Washington High alums such as Ridge Hodges and Cory Rogerson as well as former East Carolina University basketball player Taylor Gagnon, rallied to tie the game up at 70 going into the final stanza.
Late in the game Chiefs’ defensive back Javier Arenas nailed two big three-pointers, with the second coming off an assist by former ECU fullback Leach to put Team NFL up 98-93 with: 50 left to play.
Afterwards, Hodges said he was thrilled to compete against the NFL stars.
“It’s a dream, man. Playing against NFL players is a dream,” said Hodges, who is currently on the Pitt CC basketball team.
The dream weekend will continue today when the NFLers will instruct athletes at football camp at Washington High School from 8 a.m. until noon. Like the hoops game, the camp is also being put on free of charge.