By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – The Harlem Ambassadors are coming back to Westborough this spring thanks to the Westborough Spring Festival 2012 committee (sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westborough) and the YMCA of Central Massachusetts (YMCA).
The Ambassadors, a professional basketball team similar to the Harlem Globetrotters, was in town last year for an entertaining game against a group of local officials and residents, the Rotary Spokes. Their appearance was so successful Rotary President Paul McGrath said that the Rotary decided to sponsor another game this year.
The Ambassadors” games are not only showcases for their top-notch skills; they are also fundraisers for local communities. Games are not only full of amazing ball-handling skills and slam dunks but also lots of silly fun (like pulling down the pants of a local opponent, who is in on the joke.) But what really makes the Ambassadors special is their dedication to spreading the message to children of the importance of good citizenship, education, staying off drugs and treating others with respect.
This year, the Ambassadors will also be in town a day early, Friday, March 30, for a special assembly at the Sarah W. Gibbons Middle School. The assembly will be sponsored by the YMCA. Betsy Moquin, the director of membership and community relations at the YMCA's Boroughs Family Branch, said the message that the Ambassadors promote ties into many of the values the YMCA strives to promote.
“When we saw a taste of what they do, we knew we wanted to help bring this to kids, too,” she said. “The Ambassadors promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility – things that we focus on as well so it's a good match. ”
“Most of them [the Ambassadors] had challenging early lives but rose up,” she added. “They all went on to get college educations. One of their players is a woman, who is only 4″9″ and she is blind in one eye. They are all very inspiring.”
She also noted another special connection between the YMCA and the Ambassadors – basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891 at Springfield College (which was then the YMCA training school).
McGrath said the local business community has shown great support for the event.
“Avidia Bank is the main sponsor and Mark O”Connell [Avidia's president], has committed to play,” he said. “We'se also lining up other residents and coaches from the schools to play, too.”
The game will be held Saturday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at Westborough High School. Tickets may be purchased for $10 by contacting McGrath at [email protected] or the night of the event. Advance tickets will also be available at Roche Bros.
The Rotary Club uses funds raised from its events to help support local and international organizations including the Boy Scouts, Council on Aging, Westborough Food Pantry, and many others. They also provide monetary assistance for international projects such as PolioPlus and the Rotary International Shelter Box in Haiti.
The Rotary Club of Westborough meets every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Chateau restaurant, located on Route 9 in Westborough. For more information go to www.westboroughrotary.org.
To learn more about the Ambassadors, go to http://www.harlemambassadors.com/index.php.