High School Basketball Community Challenge Winners

A lot of kids dream of taking an NBA court and having a moment of recognition. The moment that two Oklahoma high school basketball coaches got today was perhaps not what they’d ever envisioned, but they couldn’t have been more proud of why they were there.

Danny Boyd, head coach of the Santa Fe South High School girls team, and David McGuire, head coach for the boys of Wilson High School, took center stage at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday in front of more than 100 of their peers to be recognized as the winners of the Thunder’s 2010-2011 High School Basketball Community Challenge.

Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager, made the presentation to the coaches, whose schools will also win a Thunder experience at an upcoming home game.

“Through this process, there was 1,800 hours of community service done,” Presti noted.

“[This program] is something we really feel passionate about … There’s really absolutely no down side to this.”

Presti had introduced the program to coaches across the state last school year. The idea: to build team relationships and foster a sense of community by encouraging high school teams to perform community service.

A few weeks ago, Presti called Boyd and McGuire to congratulate them on their commitment to their communities.

Though all participating schools left a lasting mark on their communities, Boyd’s Lady Saints and McGuire’s Eagles rose to the challenge in extraordinary ways.

Santa Fe South’s team was not only the first to respond to the Thunder’s Community Challenge, they were among the most active and effective – and the girls on the team found a new passion for service.

“Once they got a taste of it, I couldn’t stop them,” Boyd said.

“Putting them in a situation where they were serving together helped them to focus on other people [and] helped them to realize maybe that their situation wasn’t so bad. It drew us together as a team in ways I can’t explain,” he added.

Boyd contacted the United Way and connected with endless volunteer opportunities, including helping out at fundraising runs and walks for some of their partner agencies. He also sought out other opportunities, such as sorting and boxing food at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

McGuire said that his team of boys was determined to blow away the competition, and they did. Logging more than 700 service hours, the team made an impact on Wilson – a town of about 1,500 residents –that will be felt for a long time.

The boys said they did “a lot of painting” – from fire hydrants around town, to benches and tables in city parks, to posts and fences. They also picked up trash and helped local residents with farm work.

“We just thought it was a great way to give back to our community and those who support us during the season,” McGuire stated. “As we got started, we found out that not only were we blessing others, but most importantly we were being blessed by our actions and by helping others …

“These players, these boys … truly are wonderful individuals.”

Presti was encouraged by the response from not only the two winners, but from all participating teams, and hopes this program can leave a legacy of service.

“The Thunder is constantly looking for ways to contribute to the betterment of our community,” said Presti. “The High School Basketball Community Challenge provides an avenue to partner with other civic-minded individuals, and we are thrilled with the efforts of all involved.”

The High School Basketball Community Challenge is an innovative program that provides Oklahoma high school basketball coaches and their teams an opportunity to serve the community, build their team and compete for Thunder prizes – including a Thunder-themed experience at the winning schools.

The 2011-2012 challenge is underway, and all high school coaches and their teams are invited to participate. Any team that records at least 25 community service hours will win a Thunder prize at the end of this year’s challenge, which runs through Sept. 30, 2012.

Any coaches, parents or school administrators who are interested in the program can CLICK HERE for more information.