CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Garinger High School’s basketball team is one big family.
“I have the best kids in North Carolina,” said Jordan Yawn, the coach. “You couldn’t ask for a more respectful bunch or a more loyal bunch. They’re really hard-working.”
Yawn is in his second year of coaching at Garinger. There are 23 boys who play for the junior varsity or varsity team.
This year, the team is getting even closer because of new experiences off the court.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer, Shannon Finis, works in east Charlotte. Her work as an officer has led her to host several different programs for youth, many of which revolve around sports. She uses this as an opportunity to build positive relationships with youth.
“I love basketball,” Finis said. “Just being able to have that common bond is where that starts.”
Every Monday officers either mentor, tutor, eat or do community service projects with the team. At least one weekly interaction between officers and the teenagers take place. Officers also come to support the team at the games.
“Some nights we have 15 to 20 officers out here,” Yawn said. “It’s special, especially on this section of east Charlotte, that bridge, between the kids and the police is huge.”
The program also strives to connect the team with new experiences outside of basketball. This week, the team had the opportunity to attend a Thursday night play called Boys to Baghdad, produced and directed by Rory D. Sheriff. The play focuses on several topics, including the military.
Sheriff heard about the program and wanted to get involved. He invited the boys to attend the play and held a brief discussion about it afterwards.
Sheriff also has ties to the east Charlotte area, where the boys go to school.
“I feel like they care about us and they give us better opportunities. They show that they love us and care for us,” said Chris Bailey, a sophomore player. “We like we really do thank you.”
“Thank you for taking time out of your day to help us become better man and to be better athletes,” said Drew Ford, a senior player. “Just thank you because they didn’t have to do this.”