By Bill Landon
The Harlem Wizards’ Rocket Unit took off Thursday night.
The famed basketball team brought its tricks, hoops and alley oops to Smithtown West to dazzle a 600-plus crowd while raising money for the Distributive Education Clubs of America club.
“They put on a great show,” said DECA club advisor Cindy Wood, a business teacher at West. “The kids and the parents are great and we get everyone from all different schools right here in our district. We usually don’t get that, so it’s a really nice way to bring everyone together.”
Wood was one of many educators to excel out on the court as the Bulls battled against Rocket, Big J, The Artist, Jet and La Fiesta March 1. Tom Vulin, who usually fights from the sidelines as head coach of Smithtown East’s girls basketball team, showed his 3-point prowess to earn him a “shooter” shout out from play-by-play announcer D.J. Swiv every time the ball touched his hands.
Hauppauge resident Jaime Glas brought her whole family to the game expecting to enjoy it from the bleachers, but the Wizards had other ideas. Big J plucked the Comsewogue school district teacher from the crowd to meet him on the dance floor, and after immediate terror, turned lemons into lemonade as she showed him her moves.
“I was mortified,” said Glas, laughing. “As a teacher, that’s what we do every day — we just kind of roll with it.”
Behind Vulin and Wood was Accompsett Elementary School teacher Ed Vinas, who was brought out on the court for a different reason after receiving an email from event organizer Denise Massimo.
“When my daughter found out about it, she talked me into coming out tonight, so it’s become a family affair,” Vinas said. “I’ve seen them a couple of times and they put on a good show.”
Massimo, also a DECA advisor and business teacher, said putting on a spectacle of that magnitude requires tons of help. She and Wood, advisors of the business and marketing club, begin planning a year in advance. The kids running the booths, the ticket sales and concession stands are all officers of the club.
“It’s great to see everyone come together and everything culminate into what’s seen here,” Massimo said. “It was a great turnout.”