The Mesa Community College (MCC) Women’s Basketball team were heading into halftime with a large lead. This is usually the fan’s time to stretch, walk-around, or talk –but this halftime was different. All eyes were on the court as the green-and-black team raced on the large junior college court. Unlike the game before them, this one had no score and was about the fun: it was children from City of Mesa Youth Sports entertaining the audience through the half.
MCC’s athletic outreach coordinator Sandra Freres contacted City of Mesa Youth Sports to see if their teams would come for a halftime celebration. Mesa Youth Sports asked families on their teams who would like to participate in the Feb. 22 event.
Children from fifth and sixth grade played during the Women’s Basketball halftime, while third and fourth grade students played during Men’s halftime.
Before her time at MCC, Freres spent 44 years as a high school athletic director, coach and teacher. Her expertise in athletics led to an understanding of athletics’ importance beyond wins and losses.
“When you take a look at the value of sports, it has to do with all kinds of life skills,” Freres said.
Being a member on a team, overcoming adversity, training, facing disappointment and exercise are all examples Freres gave on what athletics can teach and grow young athletes.
“Sometimes people get caught up in the scoreboard, but the truth of the matter is that it is a much bigger picture,” Freres said.
Freres helped commentate the youth sport game while MCC Athletics Director John Mulhern refereed.
One of the players in the first game was Giovanni Faubush, an 11-year-old whose favorite player is James Harden of the Houston Rockets. His mother Naomi Espinoza said this was their first time playing in an event like this.
“That was exciting,” Espinoza said. “It’s a much bigger crowd. You know, you got the bells and whistles of the actual gym, but it was exciting to watch.”
Faubush said he has been playing basketball since he was five and enjoys the movement of the game. His mother helped foster his love for the game when she encouraged him to try a sport. To Espinoza, sports offer her son an ability to play on a team and be a part of something other than just himself.