Captain, Team Hype
He’s a familiar sidekick and foil for in-arena host Ally Love, whether during on-court t-shirt tosses or in-the-stands interactions with fans.
It’s really not where he expected to be. He stumbled into tumbling not long before he started with the Nets. Working as a doorman in a building with a private gym with a trampoline, he would head upstairs after hours and bounce around just for fun. Eventually, he started working with a coach who soon suggested he try out for an opening with the Nets’ entertainment team. He made the cut, and made his debut at the Izod Center.
“From when I first started, what got me excited was performing in front of tons of people. It was nerve-wracking because it was something I never did. It was new. Now, what gets me excited is to see how far it’s come. Get to be in the moment a little bit more. The season ticket members get me really excited. It’s a great joy to see them. They come to the game, they’re more like family. That’s a lot of fun.
“It’s great to work and not feel like it’s work, even though I know it’s work. It’s great to feel like it’s a second home. That’s exciting. You get to come and be a part of something that’s great, but it also feels like second nature, like coming home.”
Plenty has changed since he first started. Team Hype has evolved from a more typical cheerleading squad to a more versatile group, with the opportunity to incorporate their personalities into the show.
“The show has changed. Instead of cheerleading, it’s dunking, breaking, tumbling, different styles. Everybody has so many different styles. To me, I think it’s gone from good, to great to eventually, greater. More personable, more interactive.”
Ekow eventually became the team’s captain, taking a role in organizing and scheduling the team’s 20 members. And with the move to Brooklyn in 2012, the team’s role took on a new energy and new vibe.
“It’s all love. It’s that Brooklyn love. Spread love the Brooklyn way, it really does feel like that, it really does apply. We really don’t have bad fans. We don’t have bad people in the crowd. Even opposing teams, we play it up with them. We joke on the players, we joke on us, we joke on the fans.
“We want the environment to feel open to have a good time. Dance. Laugh. Say something out loud and have fun at the game. Make it feel like, I went to this game and I had the best time, these guys were great, we took pictures, my kid’s so happy. We get a lot of that. It’s cool.”