WASHINGTON — For the fifth-straight year The Catholic University of America head men's basketball coach Steve Howes was on the sidelines to coach in the 19th annual Hoops for Youth Congressional Classic, but this year's iteration was truly special.
Not only was Howes surprised with an assistant coach for the game; none other than University of Kentucky head coach and basketball Hall of Famer, John Calipari, but special recognition was paid to those involved in this summer's shooting at the congressional baseball practice.
While Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot while practicing for the baseball game, was not able to attend the game, his friend and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced three special guests — all of who were wounded in the shooting: lobbyist Matt Mika and Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and Doug Bailey.
"I am honored to be part of the congressional basketball charity event again and was thrilled that Kevin brought in a special guest to coach with me… John Calipari. It was awesome to share the sideline with a legend," said Howes. "Our members of Congress were up at the half before we fell to the lobbyists but the real winners were the needy kids in D.C. who benefit from this event. I was also humbled to meet two true heroes in special Agents Bailey and Griner, who were injured saving a lot of lives with their bravery at the congressional baseball practice."
The Hoops for Youth Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports at-risk kids in the District of Columbia. They provide the most basic tools that young people need to help them play team sports and face the many challenges of growing up in communities plagued by poverty and crime. Created in 1999, its mission is creating opportunities for at-risk youth, through basketball.
This year's Congressional Classic was one of the biggest showings of bipartisanship and Capitol Hill spirit since the Congressional Baseball Game.
"Last night we had two exceptional coaches give of their time to our event," said Paul Miller, Chairman of Hoops for Youth. "Catholic University is lucky to have a coach like Steve Howes. Just look at what he's done as a coach and for us, and you'll see just how luck Catholic is to have him."
While the appearance of Coach Cal was a surprise, he is no stranger to D.C., or Catholic University. With many friends and family in the area and knowing DMV basketball, he told Coach Howes, "you are in a great spot."
With All-America candidate Jay Howard, four returning starters, 17 letterwinners and a plethora of talented newcomers, the Cardinals are indeed in a great spot to return to the top of the Landmark Conference and the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
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