Benfer's Pride has a ‘Slamtastic' time with Harlem Wizards

Item photo by Shea Singley Benfer's Pride (blue) vs. Harlem Wizards (yellow)
Item photo by Shea Singley Benfer's Pride.

The home team put up a good fight and certainly put on a great show as Benfer’s Pride fell to the Harlem Wizards by only 4 points on Sunday, March 30, with a final score of 91-87.

An afternoon full of fun, dancing, music, games and of course basketball took place in the Tulpehocken Area Junior/Senior High School gymnasium as a team of service-oriented people from the Bernville community came together against six players from the Harlem Wizards, a professional basketball team based in New Jersey. The visitors combine basketball talent with comedy, athleticism, tricks, fancy teamwork and ball-handling along with heavy crowd interaction and participation.

“We are here tonight for the Penn-Bernville PTO,” said the announcer for the Wizards.

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“Doing it for the kids,” said Swoop, one of the players.

Two of the players, Big J and Sarge, took time before the game to go over some rules in order to make the night full of fun and to prevent any accidents. Joining Swoop, Big J and Sarge were Harlem Wizards players Loonatik, Blenda and Rocket. They not only showcased their ball-handling skills and athleticism, but also their comedy which according to their website is pre-planned as well as spontaneous. The entertainment was not only on the court as players pulled volunteers from the audience and ventured into the stand throughout the afternoon.

Their opponent, the home team, was named in honor of player and Penn-Bernville Elementary Center Principal Bonnie Benfer, who will be retiring in December 2014. Benfer’s career in public education spans 34 ˝ years beginning as an elementary physical education teacher and coach of basketball and track coach in the Eastern York School District. After that she taught at Penns Valley School District for 16 years as a junior/senior high physical education teacher and coached junior high girls basketball, varsity boys and girls cross country and varsity girls track and field. For the last 17 years, she has served as the Penn-Bernville Elementary Principal.

“Thank you very much for coming here this afternoon to help us raise some money,” said the announcer.

Sponsored by the Penn-Bernville PTO, money was raised from 50/50 tickets, raffles, baskets, food and other items linked to the basketball game. This stop was part of the “Slamtastic Tour” by the Harlem Wizards. The team travels the country and world and often helps with fundraisers for various causes.

Not only did the families have a chance to watch all the tricks, comedy and a close game, but they also had the chance to meet the players.

“Putting smiles on faces is what we do best,” said Swoop. “Tonight we want you to take as many pictures as you want. Make some memories with your family.”

“The Harlem Wizards will not leave the gymnasium tonight until every single kid that came to the game get themselves a free Harlem Wizards autograph,” continued Swoop.

Throughout there were pauses in the game to allow for comedic bits and for crowd involvement. Volunteers pulled from the audience to participate walked back to the bleachers with some freebies from the Wizards. At intermission, there was a game to see who could out last being tricked and when the young boy, Evan, made it to the end, the adults that had to sit in “adult time-out” after being “tricked” formed a unique circle around the young fan. Then, right before the start of the third quarter, all the children joined the team in some of the popular dances including the “Cha Cha Slide” and “What Does the Fox Say.”

Benfer’s Pride played hard and impressed the Wizards while at the same time picking up a few helpful tips such as making sure you “bend your knees and put some soul into it.” When the seconds hit zero, the floor was hit with confetti and ribbons.

At the end of the event, all of the applause, cheering and smiles made the afternoon successful for the Harlem Wizards and the amount of support accomplished the same for the Penn-Bernville PTO.

To see videos from the afternoon go to tout.com/hamburgitem and be sure to check out the photo gallery at www.berksmontnews.com. For live tweeting and video, follow The Item on Twitter @hamburgitem.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.