Ryan Ansel has dedicated his life to basketball. His love for the game was the driving force in him becoming a walk-on at Davidson College and now an assistant coach at Swarthmore College. Hoops for …
Ryan Ansel has dedicated his life to basketball. His love for the game was the driving force in him becoming a walk-on at Davidson College and now an assistant coach at Swarthmore College. Hoops for Hope is his way of giving back to the sport that has given him so much.
On Saturday, June 19, Hoops for Hope will host a three-on-three basketball tournament at the Oreland basketball courts in Oreland, Springfield Township, to raise funds and donate shoes to the Access to Success Foundation, a Christian-based charity in Nigeria dedicated toward giving Nigerian children the athletic and educational programs they deserve.
“Having this event is a great way to open kids' eyes to a broader world and to find ways to make an impact,” Ansel said. “Sometimes, we forget how grateful we should be for what we have. Something we want to emphasize is being part of something bigger than yourself, giving back, and having gratitude--that’s the message I want to spread to these kids.”
The coed event will take place from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. All fifth through twelfth grade students in the area are welcome to sign up. Participants in the event will receive a Hoops for Hope shirt and will pay a $25 enrollment fee, which will be donated to Access to Success. New or lightly worn basketball shoes will also be donated at the tournament. As of this writing, on June 9, there are nine teams from Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia counties currently enrolled in the tournament, a number certain to grow as the tournament nears and summer vacations begin for so many local kids.
Ansel and Matt Paul, his former coach at Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy, are organizing the tournament. Ansel said he is glad the tournament is happening this year after canceling last year's because of Covid-19.
Access to Success was founded by Andrew Lovedale in 2010. Lovedale was born in Benin City, Nigeria and lived with his nine siblings. After being pestered by his siblings, the six-foot-eight teenager gave basketball a try… he never looked back.
The majority of Lovedale’s early years in basketball were spent on dirt basketball courts with no shoes, according to Ansel. This didn’t stop him from playing NCAA Division I basketball at Davidson alongside Steph Curry before playing overseas for professional basketball teams in France and Switzerland respectively. In 2008, Lovedale, Curry and the rest of the 2008 Davidson Wildcats became the ultimate underdog story when their magical March Madness run led them to the Elite Eight where they lost to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks. Lovedale majored in political science at Davidson.
With a desire to give back to his home of Nigeria, Access to Success was born. Access to Success has built its own learning center equipped with a library and computer lab. They have used donations to buy new books, school supplies and an all-purpose sports court. Over 4,000 kids have participated in their summer life skills camps. The donations from the Hoops for Hope tournament will be used to raise funds for Access to Success’ athletic programs, along with the shoe drive. In its 11 years of existence, 50,000 athlet ic supplies have been issued to Nigerian children.
Donating the funds raised from the Hoops for Hope tournament to Access to Success was an obvious choice for Ansel. Lovedale graduated a year before Ansel got to Davidson, yet the former student manager turned walk-on became enamored with Lovedale’s story and charity.
“The reaction of the children when they find out they’re all getting a pair of shoes… it doesn’t matter if they have been used or not--they’re just thrilled,” Ansel said.
James Lee, Springfield township commissioner, has been instrumental in helping Hoops for Hope get organized in Oreland Park, according to Ansel.
Similarly, Eddie Graham, liaison to the parks and recreation advisory committee, has helped by promoting the event to local residents, according to Ansel.
Although Lovedale and Ansel never got to play on the same basketball court together at Davidson, their impact on the lives of children in Nigeria goes beyond the hardwood floor.
“It just feels good to give, even if it’s in one small way.,” Ansel said.
To register for the three-on-three tournament: go.teamsnap.com/forms/269120
For more information on Access to Success: a2sfoundation.org/