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Local pastor looking for Heavenly hoops

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By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Sports Writer

How often can someone say they are ministering and serving God by playing basketball? If Kelsey Hopson, pastor of Johnson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Springfield has his way, there will be plenty of layups and amens on the hardwood this spring.

Hopson, along with league director Felix Keene, are forming the Real Life Basketball League to be played at River of Life Church in Springfield.

“The purpose is to connect men with other men,” said Hopson. “In 2007, we started an outreach initiative to men in the community where we played basketball at River of Life’s open gym. We’d open with prayer, play a little, have devotions and then play a couple more games. We ended up with anywhere from 10 to 30 men who would come out to play. We’re grateful to River of Life for letting us utilize their gym, so that worked out great. We also played some flag football, but still, the purpose is to connect men with men.”

The new league is meant to be a competitive sports fellowship and is open to the community.

“It’s not a church league as much as it is a community league,” added Hopson.

A native of Earlington, Ky., Hopson moved to Springfield in 2000 when he started pastoring at Johnson Chapel.

“We’re looking for a minimum of four teams with eight to 10 on a team, maximum of six teams with eight to 10 players,” Hopson said. “Games will start on Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. and the last game will end by 9 p.m. It will be a five-game regular season with another week for tournament play.”

Competition will be tough in the league, with a mock draft set up and players will be selected according to age, height, weight and experience.

“That helps to insure some balance,” said Hopson.

When asked if he would be hitting the court during the league, Hopson laughed, “It depends. The jury is still out. We’ll see what happens after tryouts, how I compare.”

Registration fee is $20 per player, which includes a league shirt. All games will be played at River of Life Church unless notified otherwise. For more information, contact Felix Keene at (859) 583-1364.