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Celebrating Another "In-Town Mission Trip"
by Tom Goodman
March 13, 2014

We call our kids basketball program an "in-town mission trip."  We rightly spend a lot of time and energy to go out of town (and out of the country) on mission trips.  Every year, though, many commit just as much time and energy to reach out to the neighborhoods right around us.  I'm grateful for all the hard work toward another successful season of Upward Basketball and our own 5th-6th grade program, Hillcrest Hoops.

Abena Asare began to attend Hillcrest with her kids because of the program.  She moved to Austin after serving as a dentist in the military.  I asked her to share her experience:

We found out about the Upward Basketball program through my son's school.  We were new to the area, and my son was excited about participating because he loves basketball and enjoys participating in activities with other kids.  He really enjoyed the program, and I liked that the coaches encouraged all of the kids to enjoy playing while also teaching new skills and teaching the rules of the game.  I decided to attend Hillcrest after seeing how the Upward Program was one of many ways that the church offers the opportunity to support individuals and families in their spiritual growth and community involvement.  It was a great experience for our whole family.

This year's Upward/Hoops program was led by a new director, Denise Hall.  You probably see Denise every Sunday coordinating the kitchen for the Common Ground fellowship after the worship service.  We are so grateful she said "yes" when asked to take on this huge task of directing Upward/Hoops.

The program had 163 kids from first through sixth grade.  It took 43 volunteers to coach and coordinate all the players.  Eleven of those coaches were Hillcrest members:

  • Katie Cline -- Cheer Coach
  • Blake Cole -- Assistant Coach
  • Mark Wuthnow -- Head Coach
  • Andrew Thurston -- Head Coach
  • Ann Graham -- Head Coach
  • Bob Spurck -- Head Coach
  • Rick Dahl -- Head Coach
  • Don Young -- Head Coach
  • Ed Delgado -- Head Coach
  • Nikki Cameron -- Head Coach
  • Sean Eubanks -- Head Coach

Additional contributions to the success of this season came from the following Hillcrest Family members:

Steve Williams ran the sound system, kept score and magically made my devotional video appear at every halftime each week.

Victor Livingston was the Referee Coordinator who scheduled the referees each and answered all the rules-related questions that coaches had.  Victor refereed anywhere between two and five games each week.

Marc Lowe refereed games, was the announcer each week, and put together the end-of-season video.

John Alvis mentored Denise Hall in her first season of being a League Director.  John refereed at least two games each week and set up the gym every Friday afternoon.

Lisa Livingston ran the concession stand every week with the proceeds benefitting the "A Cup of Kindness" Women's Ministry.

Matt Harpin provided security to ensure the rooms were unlocked and locked after half-time and end of games.

Will Smith and Zach Givens refereed 2-4 games every week.  They took time to explain to the players the different aspects of the game.

Karen Raulie assisted Denise in planning the season, answered the many questions she had, and planned the end-of-season Awards Ceremony.  Karen also refereed the 8:30 game every Saturday morning.

Jami Dismukes, Lisa McClure, and Melanie Clonts in the church office developed and printed the "Stat Sheet" that was distributed to all the parents each weekend.  The Stat Sheet included announcements about the program as well as promotions about church events.

Of course, there were many people outside of the Hillcrest fellowship who helped.  Notably, we were grateful for another year of referee help from Anderson High School's Coach Hall and her varsity girls!  But this newsletter is especially focused on Hillcrest participants.

At the end-of-year evaluation, I was glad to see comments like these from the parents:

"Great positive attitude overall throughout the program and extremely well run program."

"I liked the team building and organization built around a Christian message."

Of course, it's especially good to hear of experiences like Coach Ann Graham who had a chance to answer a player's questions about salvation!

Denise Hall wants me to tell you, "It's never too early to begin thinking about volunteering to help with the 2014/2015 Upward/Hoops season!"  See Karen Raulie or Denise Hall for additional information.

Thanks to all of you who carved out time and energy for this "In-Town Mission Trip!"


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