No amount of luck would have helped Liberty County law enforcement officers as they faced off against stronger opponents on Saturday for the Cops vs. Kids game at the Dayton High School gym.
Even though Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader wore his “Lucky” green shirt as he coached his team from the sidelines, the deputies were clearly outmatched by the special-needs players who make up the team of Just Amazing Youth Sports (JAYS). The final score was 100-13.
“The reason I wore the shirt is because we are very lucky to be able to help a group of kids like this. I am lucky also because I get to be the player-coach, which means I can put myself into play or I can sit on the bench. Third, I am lucky if a make a basket today and I am lucky if I don’t have a heart attack running up and down the court,” said Sheriff Rader jokingly.
The Cops vs. Kids game is a fundraiser for JAYS athletes. The money is used for uniforms, equipment and other items needed by the special-needs players. This year was the third annual Cops vs. Kids game.
The game is organized every year by JAYS founder Jay Matlock, Liberty County Court at Law Bailiff John Coleman and others. Coleman brings a lot of levity to the game through his clothes, demeanor and interaction with the special-needs athletes.
After Saturday’s devastating defeat, Coleman vowed to bring in a ringer next year to play on his behalf and to increase his team’s chances of scoring more points. He said he is honored to be a part of the event every year.
“This is a great organization that does great things for kids who start out a little behind everyone else. It takes a lot of stress off the parents and allows the kids to be involved in team sports. It makes them feel a part of everything,” Coleman said. “I love the kids and really love this game.”
Coleman made the Kids team laugh during a drawing for prizes by creating a fake prize-winning ticket on a scrap of paper. The young athletes quickly caught on and called him out while laughing at his joke.
“I may have tried to bend the rules a little bit in case the person with the winning ticket wasn’t there. I was going to call them and tell them they won,” he said laughing.
At the end of the game, Coleman participated in what has become a tradition at the games – taking a pie to the face. Total Access Communications paid a $500 donation to ensure that the pie tradition continued.
Matlock was pleased to see so many people in attendance and for the willing participation of the law enforcement officers who made up the Cops team.
When asked if he was claiming the Kids’ victory as a sign of good coaching, he chuckled and said, “Yeah, that’s what it is. Actually it’s probably less the coaching and more about the kids’ natural talents.”