Dayton police officers are being cautioned that they will need to bring their A game and their Advil as they take on the Dayton Youth Sports Association’s special-needs athletes in a two-game basketball series set for Saturday, Feb. 22, in the gym of First Baptist Church of Dayton.
The Cops vs. Kids basketball game is a fundraiser to help the 32 special-needs athletes that make up DYSA’s basketball, baseball and flag football teams, according to Coach Jay Matlock.
“I made a promise to the parents of my team members that it would never cost them a dime for their kids to play in DYSA. I’ve been able to do that so far through sponsorships and donations,” Matlock said. “I’ve had great support from anonymous donors and businesses like First Liberty National Bank and 97 Graphics. They donate so we can keep this cost-free for our athletes.”
Matlock said that the parents of the special-needs athletes are often burdened with medical expenses associated with their child’s care, so it is important that their participation in sports is limited to just the costs of attending games.
“I keep the kids busy year-round. In the 52 weeks of the year, the kids have something going on at least half of that time with the three sports,” Matlock said. “A lot of the kids who are participating are the same ones I took to the Special-Needs World Series last year. If all goes well with this fundraiser, we should have enough financial support to see the special-needs program through 2020.”
Dayton Police Chief Robert Vine said when the idea of the game was brought to him by Capt. John Coleman, he was more than happy to jump at the opportunity to interact with the community, but especially this group of children.
“We are hoping this game is so well attended that we need to find a bigger venue next year. Hopefully this will become an annual event,” Vine said.
The chief said he will be lending his support at the game as a player and coach, but admits it has been many years since he played a competitive basketball game.
“I played some basketball for a church league when I was growing up and I used to be a lot better. I don’t know if I can even touch the rim now and I don’t think the police department owns a basketball,” he said. “It will be fun to watch the kids interact with the officers and they will probably be laughing at us because we won’t play well, but that’s okay.”
Vine said he has heard it through the proverbial grapevine that the DYSA special-needs team will be tough to beat.
“We have heard nothing but good things about this team,” he said.
When asked if the police department officers have been working out to prepare for the epic battle, Vine said, “At this point and our ages, if we haven’t already been working out, there is no point now with the game date so soon. Plus, we already know we are going to lose.”
Vine said he is not worried about embarrassing himself on the court.
“I do that every day,” he said with a laugh. “We just want people to come support these athletes with their applause and money. It’s not about us. It’s about them. We are just happy to be part of it.”
The first of the two games will begin at 10 a.m. The games will have four 8-minute quarters. Following the first game, there will be a 30-minute break to allow time for people to bid on silent auction items. The second game will begin after the break with the last game expected to wrap up by 1 p.m.
Matlock, who also runs Houston Astros Nation, the largest fan group for the Houston Astros, promises that the auction will include some Astros memorabilia.
Admission is $3 per person.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the silent auction or to help sponsor the team should call Matlock at 281-839-8924.