Coming together courtside

Coming together courtside
Local teams support Houston player
By Lisa Voyles and Brandon Speck
Chickasaw Journal/Monroe Journal
HOUSTON – Sometimes a basketball game isn’t all about winning and such was the case last Saturday as four area teams hit the hardcourt in a benefit tournament to support Houston student and athlete, Shaquille Vance.
The players from Houston, Calhoun City, Okolona and Aberdeen have been on the court opposite one another in many games, but the ultimate goal for this one was a little different.
Vance suffered a leg injury in a pick up game of football on April 1 and spent 51 days in the hospital undergoing six surgeries in an effort to repair it. Doctors were not able to save the leg and it was amputated above the knee.
amp”We just tried to come up here to benefit a fellow athlete,amp” said Calhoun City Coach Darren Coffey, amp”Try to help out some. We all tried to pull together. Sports isn’t always about winning and losing.”
Calhoun City’s Wildcats came up just short to Roy Hazzles’ Aberdeen Bulldogs, 58-47, in floor action. Hazzles said that a win on the court wasn’t as important as the reason for being there.
“More than basketball, it’s about young people coming together helping other young people and families to overcome hardships and crisis in their life,amp” Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said. amp”A lot of times, winning is not the main objective. Here today, we want to come and represent Aberdeen on behalf of a young man who has had an injury that has done some damage. We wanted to come and revitalize him and uplift him.amp”
Houston and Okolona reprised a long-standing rivalry on the floor, but Coach Bobby Ford knows the deeper meaning of the day.
“We’re always glad to come out and help with something like this,” Ford said.
The Toppers and Chiefs battled as they always do, with the Houston boys getting the 56-51 win.
HHS Coach Bruce Franks said that Vance will be with the team this fall.
“He asked me not to give his suit to anyone,” Franks said. “I told him number 25 was his until he graduates high school.”
Vance’s mother, Mabel, said that the support of the community has made a huge difference in her family’s life.
“All the coaches and teachers and the churches and the whole community,” Vance said. “We appreciate all the love and support that you have shown us. Shaquille has a long way to go but he is doing much better. We want to thank Okolona, Aberdeen and Calhoun City for supporting us and the referees for donating their time.”
The HHS Basketball boosters sold hamburger, chicken and bar-b-que plates and everyone from boosters to JV, Lady Toppers and volunteers joined in the effort. The proceeds were donated to the Vance family to help with medical costs.
Shaquille joined his team courtside during the game, wearing his #25 jersey. He said he expects to be fitted for a prosthetic leg in the next two to three weeks and will begin rehab. He has already started to catch up the school work his missed this spring.
When his time came to speak in the microphone, his smile spoke louder than his few words.
amp”It means a lot everybody coming out to support me,amp” Vance said. amp”I’m thankful for it. Its fun. Thanks, y’all.”

Lisa Voyles