Oklahoma City Thunder fans aren’t the only people dreaming of hoops victories these days.
Young athletes are gearing up for the Midnight Basketball outreach at Christ Temple Community Church, 2717 N Kelley.
Priscilla Meadows, the church’s youth leader, said youths ranging in age from elementary to college gather at the church on Friday nights in the summer for a chance to show off their athletic talents on the ministry’s blacktop basketball court.
Meadows said the program has been going on for more than 15 years.
“I always say it’s Oklahoma City’s undiscovered secret,” she said, laughing.
She said this year’s Midnight Basketball program begins June 13, but the outreach is so popular that she looks for community partners to help sponsor the free event for as many youths as possible. About 150 young people attend each week, she said.
Meadows said the outdoor event begins at 7 p.m. and ends at midnight, although the youths are often allowed to play ball until 1 a.m.
One of the young people preparing for the hoop activities is Darick Walker, a Douglass High School senior. Walker, 18, said he has been coming to the basketball outreach since he was 5 because he has a relative who lives near the church.
He said the outreach offers positive activities for young people in the neighborhoods surrounding the church.
“It’s something to do on Fridays instead of going out and finding the wrong thing to do,” Walker said.
Not just basketball
Meadows said basketball is not the only activity that draws youths to the summer outreach.
She said the church also provides an inflatable moon bounce and karaoke. Face painting, arts and crafts and games for young children also are offered on many Friday nights, she said. A water slide provides fun on particularly hot evenings.
Another big draw is the free food like hot dogs and pizza, she said.
“People always assume that parents are providing food, but the kids are here like clockwork asking what we are having, so they may not have it at home,” Meadows said. “They are happy with whatever we give them.”
She said community partnerships have helped keep Midnight Basketball going.
For instance, she said Clyde Watts with Pepsi has provided soft drinks, juice, tea and water for many years. Also, James Smith and the Tinker African American Heritage Committee have provided hot dogs in years past.
Meadows said she is thankful for major aid from Craig Wiginton, pastor of athletic ministries at Crossings Community Church, for providing several permanent basketball goals. She said portable goals have been provided in the past but most lasted only one summer or two before they had to be replaced.
Some off-duty Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies provide security for the outreach, and local civic leaders often visit to talk to the children, Meadows said.
She said Byron Scott visited the youths several times when he was in Oklahoma City as coach for the Hornets NBA basketball team.
“Not only our church, but churches as a whole have to offer services for the people,” Meadows said about the outreach effort.
“That’s what we’re always supposed to be doing — serving and supporting our community.”
How to Help
To donate or provide volunteer help for the Midnight Basketball outreach at Christ Temple Community Church, call Priscilla Meadows at 501-0367.