A former Harlem Globetrotter has joined forces with a San Angelo elementary school coach to raise funds for a new gym floor for students at Goliad Elementary School. Melvin Adams is teaming up with Goliad coach Tommy Longoria to raise $28,000 to provide the new floor for the school.
The two seem to be an unlikely pair. Adams is gregarious and vocal while Longoria is quiet and reserved. That changes for Longoria when he speaks about being a coach and interacting with his students. His passion for his job and mentoring his students shines through when he speaks.
“Every day, I go in with a new mentality. Some kids are labeled as “bad” kids. When they come into my gym, I don’t do that. It’s a new day every day.” he said. “I try to make sure they know that even though you’re labeled, you can still do something in life if you just try.”
And Longoria is showing his students by setting an example. He’s asked Adams to help him and fellow Goliad coach Whitnee Conner with the fundraising for the new gym floor by hosting a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and a celebrity exhibition game in March. Adams, who is a motivational speaker and mentor, said he jumped at the opportunity.
“I met coach in Odessa a few years ago.” he said. “When he asked me to help build a gym floor for the kids, why not? We’re going to use sports as a door to open doors to help kids at Goliad and open doors for kids in San Angelo.”
Adams said he has a personal connection with the children he speaks to and mentors. He grew up the same as many of them.
“We grew up in poverty. My mom was a single mom.” Adams said. “My Dad was abusive. My brothers turned out worse. People just like Tommy helped me. When I met him, he reminded me of some of my teachers.”
Adams said an elementary school counselor would come to school with a purpose every day. She showed Adams the path to his purpose.
“She gave me my first birthday party at the age of 12. I’ve lived my dream because two teachers showed me what I could be.” he said. “My life was changed by people who stepped outside the box.”
He said Longoria is stepping out of the box to raise the $28,000 needed to build the floor in the gym. It’s not Longoria’s first rodeo.
“This all started with a call to my brother, he’s a coach too. The kids wanted a rock wall. I called him to see how to do it.” Longoria said. “He told me to do a fundraiser. We said ‘We can do it.'” So we did. We raised $12,000 selling mugs. The kids play on it every day. They worked for it. We tell them every day it’s a team. If you do it as a team, you can do anything.”
Adams has watched Longoria’s growth as a coach since meeting him that fateful day in Odessa.
“I joke, I talk a lot, but I watch.” he said. “The kids come up to hug him. He smiles. They smile. He’s changing the game. He makes other teachers want to change their game. We just want to make people aware that if you want to help, you can.”
How you can help
What: 3-on-3 basketball tournament
When: 5 p.m. March 4
Where: Lincoln Middle School, 255 E. 50th St.
Cost: Junior division, ninth through 12th grades; $30 per team; senior division, older than high school age, $50 per team. $1 for spectators.
Registration: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 15-19, at Goliad Elementary School, 120 E. 39th St.
What: Celebrity exhibition game
When: 7:30 p.m. March 5. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Autograph session will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Junell Center/Stephens Arena, 2235 S. Jackson St.
Cost: $10 for spectators. Tickets are available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 15-19 at Goliad Elementary School; Feb. 27 at Albertson’s, 3121 Sunset Drive; or at the door the day of the game.
Additional information: Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Goliad fundraiser can also stop by the school from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to speak to Longoria or Conner.