When you were a child, did you ever dream of playing on the same field, court or rink as your sporting heroes? It’s a dream that is not realized by most people, but for the lucky ones who do get such an opportunity, the memories created will last a lifetime.
That’s what happened recently for a group of children who were part of the Drills and Skills program at the Air Canada Centre, hosted by the Toronto Raptors in partnership with community sponsor Ford Canada. The children, or future basketball stars of Canada, as we like to call them, were treated to a day of drills and mentoring from coaches, players and alumni of the NBA franchise.
Leading up to the Drills and Skills day, Ford asked young basketball players, ages 7 to 12, to write an essay explaining what they’re doing to connect in their local communities. Submissions were then posted online for a fan vote to determine the finalists, who were invited to bring their teams to the ACC.
Once In A Lifetime
For the young players involved in the event, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that won’t soon be forgotten. But the parents were also in awe. One father we spoke to at Drills and Skills expressed just that, saying, “We never had stuff like this. Getting to play on the court is pretty cool. They got to meet a Raptor, which is great … This is something they’re going to remember for a long time.”
While the Toronto Raptors and Ford may have put together the Drills and Skills contest and event, there was no mistaking that this day belonged to the kids. The energy level was high and the players worked hard, learned new skills, and most importantly, had fun. There was a definite air of excitement at the arena.
“This is an absolutely wonderful opportunity,” said Mike Herniak, Ford Canada General Manager, Eastern Market Area. “Together we are making dreams come true in Toronto.”
We have to give a special shout out to former Raptor and outstanding community ambassador Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams for helping out on the court. Be sure to check out his sweet dunk at the end of the video!
Have you ever had the chance to play on the same field, court or rink that your favourite team uses? Share your story in the comments below.