The Temple University men’s basketball team gave back to Philadelphia tonight by hosting an evening with children from the Fairmont Boys and Girls Club. The team led the group through “Terror Behind the Walls,” a haunted house show at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
The night began with a pizza party at the Liacouras Center. The kids “ate pizza, watched highlights from last season and put on player jerseys,” said Raheem Mapp, administrative coordinator for the team. The team then boarded a bus with the Boys and Girls Club and headed to Eastern State Penitentiary.
A bus full of screaming kids pulled up on Fairmont Ave. Zombies, mummies, and monsters surrounded the bus as team members helped the children off. Kids were shouting and clinging to players arms. Horror music played as kids contemplated going into the house. Groups were formed with five children and two player supervisors in each. Tickets were distributed and the groups proceeded into the penitentiary.
The tour lasted about 45 minutes. Temple’s Juan Fernandez and T.J. DiLeo led a small group of five boys through the house. “I’m not scared, I’m not scared,” twelve-year-old Omar Riley repeated as the group approached the house. Once inside, the group began to bond. Around each corner a new scare awaited. By the end of the tour, the group left the building in a line with their hands on each other’s shoulders. “It was a good thing to so to see smiles on the kids faces,” said DiLeo.
The team posed with the children for several photos, everyone was smiling. “Juan is like my best friend,” said Dante Moore, a member of the Boys and Girls Club. “Number 22 is my favorite, I see him play basketball a lot and he inspires me to become a basketball player,” said Riley, who attends Kearney Elementary School. The children had a great time and bonded with players throughout the evening. “It was good team bonding and it was good that we could do this,” said Fernandez.
The men’s team has participated in several community events in the past. “This is something Temple basketball likes to do and we really enjoy this, said Fernandez. “Not only events with kids, but we have been to a hospital visiting cancer patients and we really enjoy it.”
The night ended with high fives and hugs. “This event was the most fun that I’ve done so far,” said DiLeo. It was clear from this evening that the Owls team really enjoys giving back to the community they play in. “There’s more than basketball here in what we do and that’s something we’ve been doing and really enjoy doing,” said Fernandez.
Danielle Maslany covers college sports for Buzz On Broad and can be followed on twitter @DanielleMaslany