In September, Summit Christian Academy head boys basketball coach Jake Kates will get to fulfill a dream.
Kates is the head coach of the Livin the Dream Select team, which will be traveling to Ukraine and Poland for 10 days to play basketball and reach out through ministry.
In his 11th year of coaching at SCA, Kates enjoys the small-school atmosphere.
Its different than coaching a lot of places, Kates said. I do like the kind of intimate setting that we have here. We really get to invest in each of our kids and families, maybe a little bit more than a bigger school, just because we dont have as many coming through the program. My experience here has just been a high quality of kids and families that I get to deal with. And the sustained relationships post-high school.
But Kates has always had the dream of coaching college-level basketball. Hell get that opportunity while working with Livin the Dream, a team comprised of recent college graduates, all basketball stars.
I am grateful for the opportunity to go, Kates said. Im excited to coach guys at this level. I have always dreamed of coaching at the college level. To have this experience, I think is a neat reward, just for the time Ive put into the program here, how God has directed it to here. I never expected to be heading to Kiev, Ukraine or to Poland and coaching basketball. I am really looking forward to it.
The team includes SCA and UMC graduate Matt Webb, Central High School and UMKC graduate Michael Watson, Missouri Southern State University graduate Patrick Hester, Illinois State University graduate Boo Richardson and Washburn University graduate Zack Riggins.
These players will go head-to-head with European professional basketball leagues.
We will definitely hold our own with European-style basketball, Kates said. We go over there anticipating trying to win every game.
If we go over there and we are terrible, it would defeat what we are trying to do because we wouldnt have any credibility. We are going with excellence. And thats my job, is to have these guys on the same page. We had that talk last night, lets not just go over there to go over there, lets go over there to do everything, from basketball to ministry, the best we can do.
While playing six or seven games, the players and coaches will also be ministering to the communities, hosting basketball camps for underprivileged kids and coaching clinics. They will also visit a prison to minister to the inmates and play some basketball with them.
Kates got involved with the Livin the Dream ministry through sixth grade SCA boys basketball coach Kelly Cole, who is the business development associate for the ministry. He, and president Brad Mann, came to Kates office to ask him to coach the team.
I talked with my wife and made the decision that it was worth the investment and time being gone, Kates said. As I have gotten to know Brad, he is an incredible individual as well as Kelly.
Livin the Dream is based in the Kansas City area. Their mission, according to their website, is to boldly proclaim the message and principles of Jesus Christ to those uniquely impacted by sports by serving, loving and teaching. Livin The Dream seeks to have a positive influence on all people by exercising Christian principles in all we do.
Really its a basketball ministry that works with kids in middle school all the way to men in the Pro-Am with guys that are playing in the NBA, Kates said. They can continue to allow guys to play ball as long as they can, and at the same time, really introduce them to Christ. Brad is a very unique guy and his ministry is getting ready to explode I think.
Kates does get a lot of practice with his team before heading off to Europe. They are currently playing in a Pro-Am Dream League against several other teams every Sunday at the Fieldhouse of Kansas City, Overland Park, Kan.
Our first game, we play a super league second division team and an international U22 team, Kates said about their trip. We are going to be playing some high level, but these guys are all Division I and Division II players, so they can face them. We are playing NBA guys all summer long, so we definitely expect to be competitive.
On top of the games and ministry, the team will be followed by a documentary film crew.
The personalities on this team are incredible, Kates said. Mike Watson is a guy where we will never have down time. He is a live wire, and God has changed his life and he is doing awesome. I have a feeling when we look at the documentary, Mike is going to be a pretty major part of that.
The trip costs each player and coach $2,500, and the team is currently looking for sponsorships. Kates will also host a Bible drive at SCA before leaving for the trip so the team can give Bibles away. To help out, contact Kates at email@example.com.
For more information about Livin the Dream, visit http://www.livin-the-dream.com/.