On Nov. 17 at 1:15 p.m. the varsity basketball played the Oakridge School at the American Airlines Center in the “Court of Dreams Game.” Oakridge brought their cheer squad and Hockaday brought their enthusiastic parents to fill the 20,000 seat stadium with spirit.
Oakridge, the school to initially contact the American Airlines Center, reached out to Hockaday months earlier to challenge the varsity team to this game. They also coordinated with the American Airlines event staff to grant admission to the 7:30 p.m. Dallas Mavericks game against the Minnesota Timberwolves for ticket holders of the high school 1:15 p.m. game.
Senior and basketball player Michelle Mankoff has been a Mavericks fan for as long as she can remember, and some of her favorite childhood memories were formed watching games in the American Airlines Center.
“The only word that can really describe that experience for me is ‘surreal.’ Stepping onto the court where I just saw Lebron James battle with the Mavs just six days earlier was surreal, looking up into the stands was surreal, the bright lights—surreal,” Mankoff said. “It was a larger than life experience, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do something that amazing.”
And varsity assistant coach Laboris Bean agrees with Mankoff.
“Getting to play on an NBA court is something the girls will probably remember for the rest of their lives. It was a great experience for me to get to stand and coach on the sidelines of the Dallas Mavericks,” Bean said.
One of the highlights for senior player Claire Jurgensmeyer was their closely aligned schedule with the Mavericks on that day.
“The coolest part about this experience for me was having to wait until 12:00 p.m. to enter the stadium because the Mavericks were practicing before their game,” Jurgensmeyer said. “We got to step on the court just minutes after them, and that was really awesome.”
With a Hockaday victory 38-15 and after playing two challenging games a day earlier, Jurgensmeyer also saw this game as a milestone in the confidence building of her team.
“It has really helped pick up our momentum up, and I think we will carry this excitement with us into the rest of our season,” Jurgensmeyer said.
In regards to the rest of the season, Mankoff sees this game as significant as well.
“Playing in that stadium makes every other experience seem small, takes pressure off our team, which I think will be important for this young team,” Mankoff said.
For Mankoff, this game brought back memories from her freshman year playing in a stadium arena.
“I was so taken aback and it definitely distracted me a little bit, but after this experience I cannot imagine a stage that would be too big for any of us on the team,” Mankoff said.
Story by Emily Fuller, A+L Editor
Photos by Cheryl Hao, Web Editor