Hitting the Floor: Youth teams take over PA Rec hardwood

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thanks to Wanda Bodden and company, young basketball players got to celebrate Juneteenth through the game they love.

“The little kids, once they eat their barbecue and hang out with their friends, they still want to do something that will have them physically active,” the Port Arthur minister said. “I just thought bringing these kids together and getting a very nice gym will let them display their talents so they can have something more than just hanging out at the park.”

In less than a month, Bodden, along with her family and Ministry in Motion Global Ministries, organized the Hit the Floor tournament at the Port Arthur Recreation Center on Ninth Avenue. The tournament, held Friday and Saturday, included 14 teams from 9-under to 16-under age groups.

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“I had about three weeks to put this together, but it was because of the great help of Jerry Smith, who’s the parks and rec director for Port Arthur, and a great support team with Ministry in Motion and my family,” she said. “In three weeks, we went hard in the paint to hit the floor.”

Juneteenth, named after June 19, commemorates the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in Texas.

Bodden is a prophetess at Kingdom Culture Fellowship, 5529 E. Parkway in Groves. Hit the Floor is the second tournament she and her ministry organized; the Bring Back the Glory event was held at Lincoln Middle School in March to draw teams to the former Lincoln High campus that housed eight state championship teams in boys basketball (seven in the University Interscholastic League).

“I learned lot of valuable lessons [from Bring Back the Glory], and I went forward with this one,” Bodden said. “I want to let Port Arthur and Golden Triangle know this won’t be the last. We will continue to do tournaments in this area, and they will continue to get bigger and bigger. We already have March 2017 planned.”

That is the date for the next Bring Back the Glory. Bodden said the location is to be determined because there will be teams coming from outside Texas.

Many of the Hit the Floor teams came from Beaumont and Baytown. Courtenay Alfred, who coaches the Baytown Ballerz, helped Bodden’s team get Hit the Floor off the ground.

“When she was telling me about the trouble she was having, I know how hard it is to start a program,” Alfred said. “I loved her heart. I loved what she was saying, and she loves the kids. I think a lot of people do this for the wrong reason. I think the whole community needs to come out and help, and that’s why it was important for me to come all the way and help her.”

Alfred was honored for his efforts: The Ballerz won the 16-under title in Hit the Floor.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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