There’s no doubt the Licking Heights boys basketball team lives their belief that life is bigger than basketball. On December 27, 2022, the team hosted nearly 35 alumni players at their first-ever Alumni Game–and raised nearly $1,000 for foster children in the process.
“It was honestly just about community,” says Alexis Collier, Program Director for Boys Basketball and Licking Heights High School class of 2018. “One of the big pillars of our program is teaching players it’s not just about you. Basketball, and sports in general, can be used to give back to the community.”
All money from ticket sales and sponsorships went towards Stitched Together, a Central Ohio nonprofit that provides foster children with backpacks of essentials like hygiene products, pajamas and stuffed animals.
When Collier realized the game gave current basketball players the opportunity to engage with their community and learn about the importance of serving others, she immediately started planning. Since her entire family is involved in the district as alumni, current students or staff members, she first contacted people she and her siblings knew.
Once word started spreading, almost 50 alumni reached out to express interest in coaching or playing on teams. Business owners in the Licking Heights district also contacted her about available sponsorships.
After two years of COVID restrictions, Collier says the game provided an excellent opportunity to reintroduce the community to Head Coach Shaun Fountain–who joined Licking Heights in 2019–and build new relationships across the rapidly growing district.
“Events like these get people outside of just parents involved. We had people there who just wanted to come and be entertained,” she says. “These people were coming up to us afterwards and asking what they can do to help make this event happen next year.”
Alumni player Josh Osei, class of 2019 and a four-year member of the boys basketball team, says the new developments in the district and basketball program prompted him to get involved.
Osei grew up watching some of his fellow alumni team members play at Licking Heights, and they inspired his love of the game. A point guard all throughout high school, Osei said he liked the brotherhood all of the players share–regardless of when they graduated.
As Licking Heights continues to grow and develop, Collier thinks events like this are essential for building community. The game bridged gaps between alumni and current students and got district residents involved in making a tangible, positive impact on Central Ohio.
“I hope everyone was able to see and understand how important it is to work as a team, remember where you came from and be thankful for those who paved the way,” she says.
To learn more about the mission of Stitched Together and to support foster children in Central Ohio, visit stitched-together.org/.