Lt. Andrew Sands is now Capt. Andrew Sands. Kevin Ellenbrand is now a husband. John King now has a shiny new Harley-Davidson. Zak Leffler has added a few hundred more DVDs to his incredible movie collection. But the more things change …
A year after being invited to participate in the third annual (coincidentally named) Hoops For Heroes basketball tournament in New Albany, Ind., the same great team put on the same tremendous event and extended the same gracious invitation. To which I had the same obvious response: Sign me up.
Hoops For Heroes, Hoosier-style, benefits the Frank C. Denzinger Foundation, memorializing the Floyd County Police Department patrolman who was shot and killed in the line of duty in June 2007. Hoops For Heroes was created less than a year later to support the Foundation, which offers scholarships to police and corrections officers to continue their education.
Just about a year ago, their Hoops For Heroes found our Hoops For Heroes online and thought it would be a nice fit, which it was. I joined them and made 8,000 foul shots in a portable hoop adjacent to the tournament action — the most I had made in any single day to that point … and then my wrist pretty much fell off.
One year and roughly 520,000 made shots later, I felt considerably stronger in the return visit, so I figured we should up the ante a little and shoot for 10,000. And c’mon, was I really going to tell this particular group that my wrist was a little achy? The day before I arrived, my good buddy John King literally through a bad guy through a courtroom table. A majority of these guys have been on the wrong end of a taser gun … voluntarily. They earn their money by keeping daily watch over prisoners in the Floyd County jail, which is not exactly country club duty.
Yes, I feel very safe when I am hanging around with this particular band of brothers. No, I was not about to do anything to reveal to them how delicate I actually am.
So at roughly 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 9, we got to shooting with a goal of 100, 100 times. John King, as had been the case last year, was the mainstay. Zak Leffler, too. The guys from the Floyd County Corrections team joined when they could, and the parents of Danielle Sass, Dan and Susan, jumped in, too. Kelly Evans rebounded. Dalton Quinkert rebounded.
For the most part, we shot right through. Last year I remembered taking extended breaks between sessions, and feeling as though I could barely move after stepping back to the line. This year, it was more of a get-loose-and-keep-shooting mentality, and it seemed to work.
There wasn’t a whole lot of drama. We knocked out 1,000 every 40 minutes or so, and after roughly six and a half hours of shooting we had spiked that grand total from 731,007 to 741,007.
To be honest, it didn’t feel so bad this time. And I wouldn’t tell you even if it did.
I stuck around for the first half of the championship game, which the Louisville Fire Department won easily, and then headed back to the hotel to shower. Finally, it was on to dinner at the married Ellenbrands’ house, which looks an awful lot like last year’s engaged Ellenbrands’ house, with your hosts Kevin and Charla, Sands and Sass, Travis and Taylor, Jeremy and Emily, and the three bachelors, Zak, King and me.
Jeremy will be forgiven, sort of, for forgetting the cookies, and the burgers were just as good as last year. Another great weekend in New Albany.
For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit www.hoopsforheroes.com or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.