Between demolishing handfuls of popcorn, getting merchandise signed by their favorite players and learning new basketball moves to the soundtrack of party music, elementary school students and teachers in Highlands Ranch enjoyed the Harlem Wizards.
Similar to the famous Globetrotters, the Harlem Wizards are a trick basketball team traveling the country to dazzle audiences young and old.
On Oct. 23, the Wizards took their traveling show to Highlands Ranch High School.
Teachers and staff from Acres Green, Arrowwood, Cougar Run, Eagle Ridge, Fox Creek and Lone Tree elementary schools — the Highlands Ranch High School feeder schools — took on the Wizards to the delight of the students – the ‘Wiz Kids’ of the night.
“We thought that this would be a really unique and fun event,” said Ashley Smith, a member of the Arrowwood Elementary Parent Teacher Community Organization (PTCO). “To be able to bring something kind of like the Harlem Globetrotters, but at a much more personal level and really give that interactive experience to the kids.”
Prior to the teachers-Wizards showdown, the Wiz Kids, which was any kid that bought a Wizards jersey, were invited on the court to be announced over the mic and run through a tunnel made of their teachers’ arms, go through some drills with the players and hype up the crowd.
But it’s more than just a show for some of the teachers, Smith said.
“The teachers were really excited about it, and the students were really excited about it,” Smith said before the game. “We definitely have a couple different P.E. teachers out there, so there’s definitely going to be some competition out on the court tonight.”
The teachers sure came ready to compete. They were determined to win, despite the odds, and with the combined efforts of the feeder schools, the teachers did their part in putting on a show.
At the end of the game, the teachers came up short 81-74, but earned the respect of their Wizards counterparts.
Also like the Globetrotters, the Wizards all sport names like A-Train, Loonatik and Mr. Bounce.
In speaking to the crowd ahead of the festivities, Wizard player Eric “Broadway” Jones said after 30 years with the team, this season would be his last.
“I chose [this] career, it didn’t choose me. And I get a chance to go out and perform, and make people happy and affect change in a positive way,” Jones said. “So for me, I couldn’t have found a better job, and I just try to remain thankful and grateful.”
Being a part of the Wizards for three decades has taken Jones all over the country, and he said Colorado is a special stop. The community has been extremely receptive and he’ll miss being a part of something that brings people so much joy.
“In Colorado in general, people are hungry for entertainment,” Jones said. “We see what Deion Sanders is doing, riling people up in Boulder. At the end of the day, these are sports fans, and they can appreciate athleticism, but more importantly they can appreciate the fun.”