The Eisenhower Middle School Gyms are kind of old. The courts are so small that corner three point shots are almost impossible without players standing on the out of bounds line. While the weather was 80’ish with a slight breeze outside, the gyms were extremely hot. Giant floor fans circulated the hot air which gave the gym the feel of a sports club sauna. These conditions did nothing to damper the air of excitement that took place in these two gyms. The Eisenhower gyms served as a symbol of hope. In a small way, the less than perfect conditions of the gym mirrored the spirit of the event. In the tragic loss of a young and promising life, the basketball community of San Antonio came together to remember young Sierra Felan and do what she loved to do; Ball!!!! Though many of the participants have played with or against Sierra in local events over the years, they chose to put obstacles, reservations, and personal agendas aside to honor Sierra. While many in the city celebrated Fiesta this weekend, girls basketball in San Antonio celebrated Sierra. Fiesta had nothing on this party!
The event had many major stories and intrigues. Ultimately and very fitting, the championship game of the varsity division featured Sierra father, Bobby Felan, in a dual role. Coach Felan coached the runner up and was the Asst. Coach for the championship team. The event took a cooperative effort by many.
Tom Brown(YBOA/Alamo City All-Stars) and his organizational efforts ensured the events early success. Elaine and Cavin Leonard(SA Comets) spearheaded the on site operations. The event could not have happened without the Eisenhower girls basketball coach, Belinda Jeffcoat. Coach Jeffcoat got the ball rolling with the NEISD, who eventually agreed to provide the gyms free of charge. Also, respect must be given to the game officials who all donated at least one game for free to the event. Close to 30 teams signed on to play in the event, which had a waiting list for teams hoping to be included. All of these people played a big role in making this great event happen but it was the kids who energized the event.
Watching some of the best and brightest basketball players in the city wearing memorial T-Shirts in honoring of Sierra was beautiful! St. Mary’s commit, Jackie Woods, played for Coach Felans’ SA Storm team and wore Sierra’s jersey. Seeing the very accomplished scorer play with all of her energy while wearing Sierra’s jersey spoke volumes. Woods, along with an entire team of committed and signed seniors, put their immediate basketball futures at risk and played for the love of the game and to honor a member of their basketball sorority. Great examples were plentiful. They include Erica Donovan spending her Saturday evening sitting in the hot box of a gym with her new born baby brother in support of the event. Or her high school teammate, JuJu Garrett, who did not let her damaged ACL prevent her from sitting on the SA Storm bench the entire weekend and cheering vociferously. Or the sight of CeCe Harper and LenNique Brown’s very protective mothers looking on with support as their BCS Conference bound daughters played three games in one day for the great cause. This event was what girls basketball is about. A sisterhood of young dreamers coming out to honor one of theirs who tragically lost her life and reminding us all that some things are bigger than basketball!