Charleston PIPs To Perform During Harlem Globetrotters’ Game
By Scott Smith Times Record
“Practice makes perfect” is an overrated, overused phrase these days, according to one area coach.
The daily motto of the Charleston PIPs (Players in Progress) youth basketball team is, “practice makes permanent,” which fosters a more realistic, healthier mindset for the team’s players, said Kelly Gibson Kimmell, the team’s coach and program coordinator.
That work ethic, which places teamwork, dedication and participation above any numbers that might be seen on a scoreboard, seems to be paying off big time — the PIPs squad has been invited to perform for the halftime event during the Harlem Globetrotters’ basketball game, which begins at 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at Verizon Arena, 1 Verizon Arena Way in North Little Rock.
“Oh my gosh, the boys and girls on the team are so excited to be able to do this,” Kimmell said. “Can you imagine the lifetime memory we will make with these kids? Wow! It’s so exciting.”
The upcoming appearance will mark a social and educational milestone for the Charleston PIPs, which features 37 Charleston children in grades K-6 and is the only Arkansas chapter of the national Abilene, Texas-based PIPs program, she said.
“I think the kids will get to meet the Harlem Globetrotters and get a photograph made with them,” Kimmell said. “We’ve been asked to practice our pose with the team for the photo, so it’s been fun.”
Open to all elementary school and middle-school students, the Charleston PIPs will perform various basketball skills and tricks during the halftime performance. Harlem Globetrotter fans can expect to see PIP members spinning basketballs on their fingers, doing “tricky” dribbles and passing the ball in unorthodox ways, Kimmell said.
“I tell the kids, ‘If you want to be the little star who can spin the ball, bounce the ball off your knee and back onto your finger, then you have to practice,’” she said. “But, really, it’s more about positive reinforcement on how good these kids are and how good they look on the basketball court.”
Kimmell then laughed.
“I’ll say something like, ‘Laney, you are doing so good,’ and another kid next to me will then do something,” she said. “These kids just want a pat on the back.”
Many of the Charleston PIPs usually begin showing improvement during the first couple of weeks of each season, which begins in October and culminates with an awards banquet in April, Kimmell said.
“The PIP program is something these kids achieve,” she said. “Teachers have always told me that kids benefit from being a part of something — from being a part of a group. That includes wearing their little PIP shirts to being in a Charleston parade together.”
Members of the Charleston PIPs also have gained self-confidence on the basketball court, which carries over into the classroom, Kimmell said.
“You know, when you see any other game, there is usually one or two kids who are the star players,” she said. “That’s not the case with our team. You get to see the skill levels of every kid, and every kid does a great job.
“And even though all of the PIP kids now are from Charleston, I take kids from anywhere for the program,” Kimmell added. “It’s not just for children in Charleston.”
Kimmell predicted that some of her players will go on to to play high school and college sports. Her current team might even boast a future professional athlete or two, or even produce a Harlem Globetrotter one day, she said.
“If the kids keep up their ballhandling skills, I think some could play professionally,” Kimmell said. “I have a couple girls on the team now who can do so much. They’re very, very talented, and the three assistant coaches I have are great, too. It’s a good group.”
The Harlem Globetrotters
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 25
Where: Verizon Arena, 1 Verizon Arena Way in North Little Rock
Tickets: $23 to $113; call (800) 745-3000 or visit at www.verizonarena.com.
For information, call PIP coach Kelly Gibson Kimmell at (479) 965-7007 or visit the Charleston PIPs’ Facebook page or www.harlemglobetrotters.com.