Feb. 11, 2011
Each Wednesday throughout the winter quarter, members of the football team, along with UCLA Head Athletic Performance Coach Mike Linn will visit Palms Middle School to participate in The Prime Time Games. The Prime Time Games is a full-inclusion sports program wherein at-risk middle school students from the Team Prime Time After School Program coach, mentor and play alongside young athletes with special needs, including autism and Down syndrome.
"This sports mentorship program brings together low income and special needs students, and provides a unique experience for our athletes," said Linn. "Different than most community service opportunities, this after-school program allows mentor-to-mentor interaction as well as an inclusive environment for the special needs participants.
"The goal at UCLA has always been to build the complete student-athlete; in the classroom, on the field and in the community. This is especially true with football, where player development should be as much about building character as it is improving physical abilities."
This past Wednesday I had the honor of participating in a Team Prime Time event with my teammates Dalton Hilliard, Joe Roberts, and Dylan Price. Man Maker Wednesdays as they are called, started off with our introduction to a group of Palm Middle School students who are mentors and coaches to the athletes. Their 'word of the week' was leadership and Dalton talked with them briefly about what it meant to be a leader. Two of the student Palm MS leaders that day, Kemone and Dylan, were both key in my team's success later on. These kids really do realize the impact they have on the lives of the Prime Time Athletes as leaders and mentors.
After high fives and layup drills it was time for some basketball. I was the coach of the Magic and we were stacked with talent. Our scoring machine was Harrison Farb, who was everywhere on the court and was not afraid to shoot. His bash brother, Zach Marks or 'Zach attack', played intense defense and loved stealing the ball. The secret weapon though was Clete Zimmerman. He was shy at first but once he got into the flow of the game he was on fire. As I mentioned earlier, Kemone and Dylan were key to our team's success. They were point guards distributing the ball around so each athlete had a fair number of shots.
Our opponents the Clippers were coached by Dylan Price and had great enthusiasm. The two Caseys, Casey Levine and Casey Jones pulled up for long-range three point shots all afternoon and made a high percentage of them. The backbone of the Clippers, however, was Liam. Liam showed up sporting a headband and temporary tattoos. He had at least ten going up his right arm and when asked why there were so many, he answered 'Because I'm Reeves Nelson today,' (Reeves is UCLA's starting power forward who has quite a few tattoos on one of his arms). He got every loose ball and made it a point to try and tackle me whenever I got the ball.
I would also like to point out that we weren't the only volunteers having fun and being leaders that day. Jeff Gaskin, Sib Hoskins and a few others from Palisades Charter High school spend their Wednesdays helping Team Prime Time just like us. We were glad to be working alongside them and encourage them to keep up the good work.
It was exciting and rewarding working with Team Prime Time again. This was my third time working with Peter Straus and our athletic performance coach Mike Linn, and each time I learn something new. I meet new mentors and athletes, as well as reconnect with the old friends who continue to participate in the festivities. I can't wait for more of my teammates to experience the thrill of being part of this program because it truly changes lives for the better.