Seth McBroom started his Saturday morning by finding out his 8-year-old daughter had given herself a tattoo.
Lyla McBroom, a member of the Lady Raiders AAU basketball team comprised of area second and third graders, had drawn a small star on her leg, just like her favorite Three Rivers player Myia Yelder.
“At first, I laughed about it and thought it was cute and funny,” said Seth, who also coaches the Twin Rivers boys basketball team. “Later on, when both daughters were making plans to get tattoos, I had to step back for a second.”
Later that night, Lyla got to show off her art to Yelder as she and the rest of the AAU team got autographs and took photos with their favorite players.
“It’s been really fun since I met the team because now I’m crazy about them. I’ve been writing and painting stuff about them,” said Lyla, who has a drawing she hopes to give to the team when it plays the Region XVI semifinal on Thursday.
Added Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs, “It’s good and important for (the college players) to see how much those little girls and community pay attention to them and their success.”
The 2 p.m. matchup against Jefferson with no men’s game later had fewer attendees than a traditional Saturday where the girls play at 5 p.m. with the guys that follow. The AAU team sat front row behind the bench and were collectively the loudest supporters in the gym. When a player would sub out, they’d jog over and give the little girls a fist bump or a high five.
The support from the younger Lady Raiders, most wearing their own black and gold basketball jerseys, was unequivocal.
“It didn’t really matter if the girls made a mistake or missed a shot. Whenever they came off the bench, those girls were cheering for them and were happy for them,” Wiggs said. “I would say every single one of them (wants to play for the team).”
At halftime, one of the referees went over to the bench area to compliment the girls on how good of fans they were being. Nobody was on their phone or goofing off. They were engaged in the game from start to finish ... and also concessions.
The referee wasn’t quite quick enough because the moment the halftime buzzer sounded, the girls jumped up and jogged for concessions, briefly stopping along the way to take photos with Rocky Raider.
Postgame, both Lady Raider teams went straight to the media room for a postgame talk from coach Wiggs, with autographs and pictures afterward.
Lyla’s AAU season is just getting underway. She and her teammates pretend to be their favorite players during practice. The girls talk about questions they should have asked or things they wish they should have said.
“I’d say walking around the house pretending to be a Lady Raider is pretty hot on their mind right now,” said McBroom, who remembers watching players like Sunday Adebayo and Chad Allen when he was a kid. “Raider games are special like that for a lot of these families.”
Apparently, the second and third graders have informed their parents that they will be attending Thursday’s game.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic