Liberty County peace officers and special-needs children with Just Amazing Youth Sports (JAYS) played a good-natured game of Cops Vs. Kids basketball on Saturday to raise money to help the children participate in league sports. To no one’s surprise, the children won the game 56-12.
“It was a great event. We didn’t raise as much money as last year, but it was still a success,” said Jay Matlock, founder of Just Amazing Youth Sports. “Considering everything that we were up against with the weather and the pandemic, we are still very pleased that we raised a little more than $4,000. Last year, we were in the ballpark of $5,000.”
Last week’s winter storm delayed the delivery of commemorative T-shirts that are sold at the event, which accounted for a loss of several hundred dollars. Matlock still hopes to sell the T-shirts to local supporters or give them to the sponsors of the event.
“The T-shirts are donated to Just Amazing Youth Sports, so either way it’s a gain for us,” he said.
Other funds were raised from a silent auction and from an online auction on Houston Astros Nation, a Facebook group managed by Matlock. The Houston Astros Nation page is the largest Astros fan base on Facebook.
Matlock jokingly called the performance of the local peace officers “pitiful,” adding that he cleared his bench of all 14 players at the end of the game because there was no competition for them.
“They were having a hard time guarding my team,” he said with a laugh. “I really appreciate them for coming out though. Without them, this game would be impossible. I was thrilled to see so many of them there. Not all of the officers were there to play; some were just there to support us and that really meant a lot.”
The law enforcement side of the game is organized every year by John Coleman, a retired Dayton police officer who now works as a bailiff for Liberty County Court at Law No. 2. For the last couple of years, Coleman has also agreed to take a pie to the face to raise money for JAYS. This year’s donations for the pie throwing topped out at $184. The pie was made and donated by Susan Hawkins, the mother of one of the special-needs athletes.
Matlock credited another parent – Ashley Thompson – for being the backbone of the organization and helping to plan and coordinate the event.
“She is the one who started this with me. She has helped plan it and keeps it going,” he said.
The pitiful playing on the court by the law enforcement officers could well be the result of bad coaching. Texas Ranger Brandon Bess agreed to coach the team this year. Prior to Saturday, his sole qualification to coach was that he once watched a high school basketball game.
When asked if he was surprised that the “Cops” lost the game, Bess shook his head. With a deadpan expression, he said, “I was not surprised. I knew the talent that I had coming into this was very low and the talent of the team we were opposing was very high.”
Sheriff Bobby Rader said that despite Bess’s obvious shortcomings as a coach, the team is not looking for a new one for next year’s game.
“I think Ranger Bess did an excellent job. We just didn’t have much for him to work with,” Rader said jokingly.