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Albert’s Basketball Shootout and All-Star Game

November 11, 2012

By: Jen Cooper

There had been an excitement building in anticipation for the annual Pujols Family Foundation Albert’s Basketball Shootout and All-Star Game on November 11. The Sports and Recreation Complex at Missouri Baptist University, which hosted last year’s event, was home to this year’s as well.

As the participants and their families entered the facility, they checked in and proceeded to get their red Albert’s All-Star t-shirt. As they approached the gym floor, they could hear the sounds of balls being dribbled, shoes squeaking on the floor and the sound of cheering family, friends and volunteers. The Shootout lasted for three hours and included over 65 children and adults with Down syndrome getting their chance on the court to show off their basketball skills.

In between all of the fun that the participants were having on the court and waiting for the start of the featured All-Star Game, they were able to enjoy delicious treats. Cold Stone Creamery, Oh Yeah! and Smoothie King all generously donated a variety of items to keep the PFF families fueled and happy.

As tip-off was soon approaching, the camaraderie of Albert’s All-Star team and the rival Missouri Baptist team was apparent during the on-court warm-ups. As some of the returning players greeted each other and exchanged hugs, it was obvious that although they were on different teams, there was a lot of mutual respect. This year’s All-Stars team featured 13 players, who were also joined by some special celebrity guest players that included Albert Pujols, Cardinals Matt Holliday, David Freese, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle McClellan and hitting coach John Mabry along with former Cardinals pitchers Andy Benes and Brad Thompson. Also in attendance was former Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, former NBA player Anthony Bonner and Harlem Globetrotter legend Meadowlark Lemon. Although these current and former professional athletes were on the floor, it was the teenagers and young adults with Down syndrome on Albert’s All-Star team that were the true stars.

As the All-Star team headed into the locker room with a commanding half-time lead, they were greeted by NHL player Cam Janssen, who encouraged the guys as they prepared for the second half. While the team was getting fired up, there was plenty of great half-time entertainment on display for the crowd. Bobby McCormack, basketball coach at CBC high school was on-hand to perform a Globetrotter-esque show that incorporated many people with from the audience. Another special group took the floor…the Totally Awesome Girlfriends Group (TAGG) performed a dance and cheerleading routine to pump up the crowd for the second half. This group is comprised of teenage girls with Down syndrome who meet and practice throughout the year.

As the second half began, it was clear that the All-Stars had no intention of relinquishing their lead. As the Missouri Baptist team was looking for any advantage to get back into the game, one of the All-Stars changed jerseys and joined them. However, in the end it was not enough to mount a comeback. Albert’s All-Stars had defeated Missouri Baptist for the second year in a row. As the All-Stars received the medals for their win, you could see all of the big smiles and excitement on the faces of not only the players but everyone that was involved.

A special thank you to all of the vendors, participants, volunteers and celebrities who helped make this event a success!

2012 Albert’s All Star Team: Brandon Coyne, Jack Griffin, Joe Hagan, Daniel Haynes, Dan Henke, Brad Hennefer, Brandon Karandjeff, David Kime, Joe Koelling, Andy Mauch, Nick McMullen, Luke Sicking and Matt Smitherman. Managers: Josh Fankhauser and Dan Leonard. Coaches: Bill Fankhauser, Kevin Leonard and Jerry McMullen.


November 11, 2012
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