By Jason Porter / @jporter2004
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Production crew for ICE League: Season 2
There comes a moment in everyone’s life where an experience teaches you something.
For me, that experience has been the 2016 Inner City Educational (ICE) League.
My first exposure to the organization came February 6 during Draft Day at Muncie Central High School.
And it was then the ICE League began to teach me a few lessons of my own.
1.) With hard work comes reward.
The students participating in the ICE League have to work hard – just like any other athlete. But the work doesn’t stop on the court or in practice.
The students also have to work hard in the classroom.
To be eligible to play, the students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. As their GPA increases, so does their playing time. Once a student reaches a 2.5 GPA, they are eligible to play in all four quarters of a game.
Taking the GPA requirement into account makes the student work hard in the classroom to earn more playing time. Then – like any other athlete – they work hard to play in a game for as long as they can.
Looking at the ICE League model made me stop and ask myself, am I working as hard as these students in my own classes?
While I may not be trying to earn playing time, I am working toward a degree. The ICE League has shown me that hard work in the classroom translates to real world results.
2.) There are good people in this world.
It seems all too often we turn on the news or read in our Facebook news feed about some tragic event. A shooting, a robbery, a murder. These things seem to have found a permanent home on the front page.
Being involved with the ICE League has shown me there really are more good people in this world than bad.
My first instance that made me think “wow, that was pretty cool” came during the opening night games.
I was sitting courtside filming one of the games and there was a foul right in front of me. The students were playing hard – as you would expect – and the referee stepped in. But rather then yell or get angry, he calmly explained what the foul was, and then complimented both students involved for their hustle.
It doesn’t stop there.
On any given game night, you can walk into the Muncie Central Fieldhouse and hear the recurring phrase, “stay positive.” I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard that phrase from the coaches to their players.
Even organizers of the ICE League get in on the “stay positive” message.
My take away here is simple — good people out number the bad.
3.) Indiana basketball is alive and well.
It’s no secret Indiana is known as “The Heart of Basketball Country.”
My entire life I’ve lived here and there always seems to be two pretty magical times of the year – the IHSAA State Basketball Tournament and March Madness.
Even when IU, Purdue or Butler do not make it to the “Big Dance,” the buzz in the air is almost comparable to Christmas.
But when I showed up for ICE League Draft Day a few weeks ago, I sensed that same buzz in the air. I sensed the March Madness feeling we seem to get here in the Heartland.
Hundreds of middle school students walked in the door hoping to get a spot on one of the four teams. They’d all worked hard to be eligible to play and were ready to show their skills.
The turnout for draft day alone was enough to prove basketball in the state is still going strong. But once the games began, that’s where it became the most obvious.
Players walk into the Fieldhouse primed and ready to go. They head out for warm-up, get that last second pep talk from their coach and then the game begins.
That’s when you hear it. The sound of the many moms and dads sitting upstairs rooting for their child. Supporting them in their quest for greatness.
If there’s one lesson the ICE League has taught me well, it’s that there’s no shortage of passion for the game of basketball. Check out the Week 3 Top Plays to see for yourself.
When I began my journey with the ICE League, I quite honestly didn’t know what to expect.
But now that I’ve had first-hand experience with this incredible organization, I can without a doubt say it will leave a lasting impression on me.
The people involved in the ICE League – the students, the coaches, the organizers, the referees and the parents – have a heart of gold. They all want their students to succeed.
Not only on the court, or the classroom, but in life.