Bobby Ardoin, Special to the Daily World 9:09 p.m. CT June 1, 2017
An Opelousas youngster has his wing span measured by members of the New Orleans Pelicans dance team in comparison to superstar Anthony Davis.(Photo: Freddie Herpin/Daily World)Buy Photo
The New Orleans Pelicans came to Opelousas on Wednesday, but none of the nearly 80 youths who demonstrated their basketball skills will be age-eligible for the upcoming NBA player draft this month.
Representatives from the team hosted a junior training camp, which put kids, some as young as six, through various skill competitions, such as jump shots, precision dribbling and other hoops-related events.
Official team mascot Pierre The Pelican, whose surprise side door entry into the Boys And Girls Club gymnasium on East Laurent Street, drew the biggest response from the young crowd.
Once Pierre, still wearing the bulky costume moved onto the court, the mascot helped those children unable the reach the goals, put the ball through the net as they were lifted into the air..
None of the Pelicans players made an appearance, since most of them were either back in New Orleans for individual workouts or awaiting the start of training camp or summer league games, explained Michael Ergas, who works in the teams community affairs department.
In addition to Ergas and Pierre, attired in a fuzzy attire with a protruding beak that was occasionally pulled by some of the youths, the Pelicans contingent included Jason LaToule, youth program director and Rian Allen and Kayla Raia, two Pelicans dance team members.
Allen, from Baton Rouge and New Orleans native Raia didnt bust any dance moves out on the court, but the pair did measure the wing spans of the youths, whiose participation entitled them to potentially future benefits.
Ergas said the kids who had documented wing spans the distance between two outstretched arms will enable to participants to go on-line to the Pelicans Website and qualify for tickets to one of the teams home games.
Its a way for the Pelicans to give back to the kids. Once they fill out the sheets with their names on it before they get the wing span measurements, they are eligible for a free ticket in the bowl level (of the Smoothie King Center Arena where the team plays home games), Ergas said.
Ergas said the team sends the community relations team members out several times a week in Louisiana and to states along the Gulf Coast.
We cover as far east (of New Orleans) as west Florida, but we dont go into Texas, since they already have franchises in that state, he said.
On Wednesday Ergas said the Pelicans had already visited boys and girls clubs in New Iberia and Abbeville before arriving in Opelousas.
The entrance of Pierre brought the biggest response, as the youths squealed and cheered as the mascot opened the side door of to the club facility, burst onto the court and then climbed through the bleachers to receive hugs.
Children hung onto Pierres tail, beak and shoulders as he made his way through the crowd.
Their response didnt surprise Ergas, who had seen the same seen unfold at other events. Pierre really gets the kids into it. Its almost magnetic, he said.
Opelousas Boys and Girls Club director Adrian Giron said the appearance from the Pelicans is one of many events scheduled this summer.
Initially not very many of the children knew much about the Pelicans before Wednesdays event, she said.
A few of them raised their hands and said they had heard of them. A couple of others said their daddies or their paw-paw watched the games on television, said Giron.
On Fridays Giron said the club has events such as movies and a visit to the Lafayette Childrens Museum planned.
In addition the club will continue to sponsor programs in what Giron called the clubs five core areas that include educational and career skills, brain games, arts and crafts, life skills and sports and athletics.
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Local kids enjoy Pelicans junior camp – Opelousas Daily World
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