By Laura Bratcher, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and RecreationFebruary 7, 2011
HONOLULU - The Stan Sheriff Center hosted Utah State's men's basketball team and one very large group of military youth, here, Jan. 29.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Child, Youth and School Services chaperoned more than 300 children as they watched the University of Hawaii's Rainbow Warriors play against Utah State's Aggies.
The children are involved in CYSS programs, including Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel, or EDGE; HIRED; Youth Sports; and Middle School Teens programs. CYSS helps provide programs for children who are dealing with deployments.
"These are opportunities that we love to encourage, because with deployment, it means a lot to the kids," said Brendyn Agbayani, manager, Youth Sports and Fitness, DFMWR, "but mostly for the families that are dealing with (the) stress of loved ones being away serving our country."
For some children, the game was a welcome respite from dealing with the loneliness of a having a deployed parent. For all, the event was a chance for encouragement and inspiration.
Kids crowded the halls, waiting for a chance to greet UH players as they sprinted onto the court. Some of the children's cheeks were even painted with UH logos to support the team.
Many of the children are on basketball teams themselves. For example, Nate Vanos, in his second year of basketball, plays with the Schofield Heat.
Vanos said he had "never, ever seen a college basketball game or stadium," explaining the game was "real special" for him.
Coaches from some of the Youth Sports basketball teams chaperoned the event. For them, the game was a teaching opportunity.
"This gives the kids the experience of seeing older kids and how they play," said Kevin Pearson, who coaches the Heat's Termite division. "It helps us coach them and hopefully, someday, get them to that level.
"Watch, because the stuff they're doing is the same stuff we're teaching you all," Pearson said, to the team during a timeout.