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December 23, 2009 > HYA and SMC team up

HYA and SMC team up

By Biff Jones

Under the leadership of Hayward Youth Academy founder Chris Major and in conjunction with St. Mary's College, 300 teen and pre-teen youths will be treated to two SMC men's basketball games during the 2009-10 season at McKeon Pavilion on the St. Mary's Campus. HYA is open to youths aged 9-15.

During the 2008-2009 basketball season, HYA and SMC teamed-up to treat youths to three "Diamon Center Nights" in honor of one of last year's star players, then senior forward, Diamon Simpson.

This year, "O-Zone Nights" is designed to inspire youths to academic and athletic achievement while attending junior high, high school and college. 300 teen and pre-teen youths per game will be chosen based on their work ethic in the weeks prior to each game.

O-Zone is the name of a section in the stands at McKeon Pavilion that has been set aside for the attending youths and is named after Omar Samhan, a 6'11" senior center on this year's SMC men's basketball team. Samhan attended Bowman Elementary School in Hayward and is a graduate of San Ramon Valley High School.

Samhan will be trying to help fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade youths at schools, such as Bowman, about the value of keeping their grades up and attending college to aid in achieving their goals in life. In charge of the Bowman group is Principal Maria Rivera.

Scheduled games for O-Zone Nights at McKeon Pavilion are Tuesday, Dec. 29 - a 7:35 p.m. tip-off against Binghamton University of New York in the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic - and Saturday, Feb. 6 - a West Coast Conference rivalry game versus the San Francisco Dons, tipping off at 8 p.m. The game against the Dons will also be televised by Comcast Sports Net California.

Prior to the Binghamton game there will be an interactive process for the youth groups in the SMC Theater starting at 5 p.m. A SMC representative will be discussing admission policy for first-generation, college-bound students. Groups will also have exclusive O-Zone seating and will be greeted by Samhan after each game.

For those that want to become a sponsor for these Bay Area youth, they will receive two complimentary tickets to the game they sponsor; one public address announcement acknowledging their contribution to the O-Zone Night; their name and logo on a banner in the lobby of McKeon Pavilion for the night they sponsor; recognition at half-court during a timeout of the game they sponsor; and pre-game photo opportunities with the group to which their tickets are donated. Sponsor financial investment is $700.

For more information on joining HYA or becoming a sponsor, you can contact Chris Major by calling 510-677-5653 or e-mailing HYA is A 501c [3] nonprofit corporation.

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