Imagine the sounds of excitement as an entire gymnasium cheer as their basketball team wins game after game. The Nexus-Woodbourne campus rallied behind their basketball team, the Midnight Bulls, as they won their way to an undefeated 2021-2022 season. The energy was so contagious, and Nexus-Woodbourne Executive Director Dr. Jarrell McRae had an idea. He invited the basketball team to speak at the February Board meeting as a mission moment.
The team was nervous and excited. In the excitement of sharing their stories, they also advocated strongly for their needs: they needed reversible uniform jerseys, so they could wear whichever side was needed to stand out from the opposing teams. They also needed shoes that were made for basketball to prevent rolled ankles.
Board Member Leslie Ashley was moved by their request. “They really engaged our Board. It was very inspiring; we could feel their enthusiasm.” And the rest of the Board felt the same way – they immediately wanted to get involved; many board members requested a game schedule so they could attend a game!
The team’s participation at the Board meeting created a domino effect and rolled into something much bigger. The Board started to brainstorm ideas on how they could help. They raised money for uniforms - two anonymous monetary gifts totaling $800; and they also received an in-kind donation of a Bulls Mascot Costume, which the school has lovingly named Midnight.
The Board still wanted to do more. Regional Development Director Meghan Butterworth met with the Board’s Development Committee. Board Member Cate Goytisolo used to work for Under Armour. She reached out to her contacts and acquired 11 pairs of Under Armour basketball shoes. Using the $800 in donations, Cate was also able to help Nexus-Woodbourne buy new Under Armour uniform jerseys and shorts at a discounted rate.
Words of Inspiration and Encouragement
Leslie Ashley also wanted to help. Sports are a big part of Leslie’s family -- Leslie’s husband is a high school football coach and her son plays for the Cincinnati Bangles as a linebacker. Leslie met with Meghan to brainstorm ideas. Meghan mentioned she reached out to Shaquille O’Neal to see if he could send words of encouragement to the team but hadn’t heard back.
A lightbulb went off in Leslie’s head. “I told Meghan, I don’t know any professional basketball players, but I do know a few NFL players. Would inspiring messages from the NFL work?” Meghan immediately responded with a resounding, “Yes!! They would love that.” Leslie reached out to her son and his NFL friends to see if they could send words of encouragement. She was able to secure three videos of encouragement, congratulating the entire team on their accomplishments and great season:
- A video from Keandre Jones, Linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals,
- A video from Malik Harrison, Linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, and
- A video from Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker for Arizona Cardinals, Kelly Bryant, Clemson Tigers, and Shaq Smith, former New Orleans Saints
When the team saw these videos, they were so excited! Leslie also hopes to coordinate a campus visit soon with a couple of NFL players so that the youth can meet them in-person.
Nexus-Woodbourne and The Woodbourne School needed to celebrate! They held a pep rally as a celebration for the team’s undefeated season with the entire school. At the school pep rally, Nexus-Woodbourne leadership announced to the basketball team that they were getting brand new uniforms! Not only was the team thrilled, but cheers from the entire student body and staff echoed from the walls as they rallied and showed support. They simply cannot wait for the 2022-2023 season!
“They really engaged our Board. It was very inspiring; we could feel their enthusiasm.”
- Leslie Ashley, Nexus-Woodbourne Board Member