‘Street’ ballers help charity

Gaither Gym was all abuzz Friday as athletes and aspiring basketball players challenged each other on the court. FAMUnity, a social service organization, organized a basketball tournament for charity and invited all athletes to participate.

Admission didn’t cost a dime. Instead, the price of admittance was canned goods, clothes and non-perishable items.

Tamickqa Johnson, vice president of FAMUnity, said she was pleased with the turnout and was happy the athletes enjoyed themselves.

“It was a great turnout, and I was very pleased,” said Johnson, 20, a cardiopulmonary science student. “ABC News even showed up to cover the event. I had fun, and I was happy.”

The tournament featured athletes from Florida A&M, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University. To promote the event, Johnson turned to Melissa Nolan, a professor in the physical education department. Together they put together a marketing campaign that utilized Facebook and MySpace to create Web pages for the tournament. FAMUnity also passed out flyers on college campuses.

“It was hard,” said Johnson, a New York native. “It was challenging, but at the end of the day everything was fine. Mrs. Nolan’s class was a big help.”

Nolan, who has taught at FAMU for more than seven years, said the tournament was a great idea.

“Tamickqa came up with the idea, and I saw that she needed help,” Nolan said. “I offered to allow my class to assist with the event. Three of my students – Jasmine Wilson, Aubrey Gavin and Kenny Strong – helped out a lot. Everything turned out great. There was a nice crowd, students had friends come, and the athletes were very, very competitive.”

The tournament featured eight teams. In order to compete, each player had to donate $6. Trophies were awarded to the top three teams as well as the top three athletes. Three of the trophies were donated by Trophy King USA. Johnson bought the three athlete trophies herself.

Jelani Pratt, a business student from New York. Pratt took home the first place prize for top athlete.

“It was fun,” said Pratt, 21, a senior business student. “The first three games were easy. They were like a walk-through, but the last one was difficult. That was the one that had my blood pressure up.”

Pratt said the idea of having a tournment for charity was a noble act. He said the school should sponsor more charity sports occasions.

Johnson said this is exactly what FAMUnity has in mind. Not only is the organization planning more sports-related events; it will branch off into the arts, poetry and even dance. However, for now, the focus is sports.

“I’m currently planning a flag football benefit,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for entertaining and competitive individuals that want to participate. Everyone is invited to come out.”