April 23, 2013

Harlem team promotes positive lifestyle

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Standing in front of a crowd of elementary students, Lade Majic gripped the mic, telling the students she wanted to make sure she was in the right place.

She asked the right questions.

"Do you like music? Do you like dancing? Do you like video games?"

Affirmative howls filled the gym.

The Harlem Ambassadors visited Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center on April 23 to promote education, a drug-free lifestyle and their game that night with Chickasha Breeze, a team of city and county officials and public figures.

The students were given free tickets to the event if they came accompanied by an adult.

"When you get home, get your chores and do your homework," Lade Majic told the gym full of students. "Today is not the day to get in trouble."

Lade Majic is the co-founder, coach and player for the Harlem Ambassadors. The basketball group formed in 1998. Lade Majic told the students that the idea behind the Harlem Ambassadors was to form a group of African American, drug-free individuals who had a college degree.

Lade Majic said that at first people told her she had set the bar too high. About 15 years later, the Harlem Ambassadors have visited 23 different countries and all 50 states in the U.S.

Lade Majic told the students that all the members of the Harlem Ambassadors, including herself, had challenges to overcome in their lives.

In grade school, the now famous athlete and positive role model could not even participate in gym due to severe asthma. She had to sit out during P.E. The other kids made fun of her. She craved participation.

It was not until sixth grade that she got her first pair of sneakers and could participate in gym once a week.

She said at first she had to stop before the gym period was over due to her wheezing. By the end of the second month, she completed the entire gym period.

Lade Majic said that it was by believing every day that she would finish class, that she finally did.

She and members of the Harlem Ambassadors gave the students advice for achieving their dreams.

Sometimes this involves making mistakes.

"When you mess up, you can't give up. You're only a loser if you quit," she said.

The team members, who ranged in time on the team from two to 15 years, each talked to the students about the importance of positive confidence, setting goals high, speaking up, making the right choices and dreaming big.

The team's announcer, Alvin Washington, told the students that even at their young age, they were at a time when people would be asking them what they wanted to do when they grow up.

"You're in school to build the foundation for that big dream down the road," Washington said.

He also advised the students to keep an open mind while pursuing their dreams. Washington used himself as an example. He wanted to be a professional athlete but it wasn't in the cards. Washington was sure that he wanted to work within the realms of professional sports. He told the students that it was by working hard and dreaming big that he became the voice of the Harlem Ambassadors.

"We forget to believe in ourselves," Lade Majic said. She acknowledged that this can be hard when others belittle one's dreams.

"To all the people who told me that it wasn't a good dream, I say ha ha because I'm still dreaming big."