Midnight basketball in El Paso to celebrate 20 years

KDBC
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 11:48pm

The Junior League of El Paso started the Midnight Basketball Program in El Paso, Texas in 1994 as a way to combat juvenile crime in the city along with creating a safe haven for the many endangered teens in the community while establishing an educational process to give the participants a positive outlook on life through education, awareness and responsibility.

The collaboration between the Junior League, El Paso Police Department, City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department, under then Parks Director, William Potter Jr. and the many sponsors were an instant success with the initial start at Carolina, Armijo, Pavo Real and Veterans Recreation Centers. The championships were at Memorial Gym and the Special Events Center (now Don Haskins Center) as the years of the program advanced.

A 20-year reunion of this nationally awarded program started by Julie Kallman and the many members of the Junior League of El Paso will be 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11, 2014 at Armijo Center, 700 E. Seventh St. The official logo of the program (pictured) is a constant reminder of the lives the program has impacted and the tremendous drop in crime in the programmed areas of the city.

The reunion will have a ceremonial basketball game, testimonials from former players from the 1994-2003 seasons along with recognizing the many volunteer coaches. The highlight of the evening will be the Junior League recognizing five special individuals from the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department that were the backbone to the foundation of the program.

Retired city employees, Frank Dominguez, Doug Barnes, Ladislao Vicencio Jr., and Floyd Williams along with a still vital city employee, Joe Rodriguez will be recognized at the event for their outstanding contributions and leadership to the program. Games were then played from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays with workshops on Saturday afternoons, where if the players did not attend the workshops they were not eligible to play in the games on Saturday night while Job Fairs were also held for the players to assist them in gaining employment.

That special nine year run (1994-2003) of Midnight Basketball still stands today as one of if not the single greatest programs ever organized by the El Paso Parks and Recreation Department and the City in collaboration with so many different agencies, businesses, community leaders and non-profit groups. The event is free and open to the public.

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