In only a year's time, the Ardmore Lady Dream Team went from non-existent to a significant community presence.
You may have seen some of these girls and their coaches around town. They're the group in basketball uniforms raising funds for their team and volunteering at area locations.
Thursday, they spent their first such volunteer activity at the Ardmore Soup Kitchen, and soon they will be aiding Loaves and Fishes. Organizers said they hope these are the first of many times they can help the community by volunteering.
"We want to give back to the community as well as fund-raise for the teams," said volunteer parent Jamie Johnson.
Coach Virgil Harmon Jr. did similar work when he was an athlete at Ardmore High School.
"I played football at Ardmore, and we would volunteer at the soup kitchen," he said. "I wanted them to do the same kind of things I did when I was young."
Now a coach at Ardmore, Harmon said in the group of athletes on the dream teams, several will grow up to be coaching material like himself.
Parents said the Dream Team is the next step after programs at the YMCA to help hone the players' skills. Team member Ahlyra Anderson said it's one of her favorite parts.
"I like the practices and the drills we run, the plays we run," she said. "The volunteer stuff is fun, too."
Team members were happy to take time away from their practice and free time to volunteer Thursday. They're also proud to put in the work needed to raise money for their team to travel.
"I liked washing the cars and making the soup," said team member Dajarea Clark. "It made me feel good doing something for other people and for my team."
There are currently five dream teams in Ardmore: The third grade boys, coached by Harmon; fourth and fifth grade girls, coached by Harmon, Shay Jackson and Alice Knight; fifth grade boys, coached by Antowine Williamson; sixth and seventh grade boys, coached by Williamson; and eighth grade boys, coached by Williamson. The teams are made up of boys and girls from the Ardmore area, including students from Plainview, Springer and Ardmore.
Each team will perform any number of fundraising events year-round to help with travel expenses for tournaments in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas, Fort Worth and many other cities.
Money raised could even go toward helping the community effort. Parents said they hoped they could raise enough to put together a back-to-school backpack program that would provide some Ardmore area students with school supplies for the upcoming school year.
The group will have another fundraiser at 5 p.m. today at the McDonald's on Broadway Street. Team members and their coaches will be helping staff serve, and will be taking donations.
Johnson said organizations looking for volunteers can contact her at (580) 341-0896.