Globetrotters to perform at LU, Two children to be chosen for Junior program

Published 5:55 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Harlem Globetrotters will visit Longwood University’s Willett Hall at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to perform their world-renowned basketball show as part of their 90th Anniversary World Tour.

“We are excited to come to Longwood next week,” said current Harlem Globetrotter El Gato Melendez. “I have played basketball ever since I was little and becoming a Harlem Globetrotter was my dream. Now I am one.”

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Melendez is the first Puerto Rican-born player to play for the Globetrotters. He says that when he was growing up, the closest basketball courts were two miles away and that he had to run back and forth to the courts to play.

As he grew older, Melendez started to attract attention with his basketball abilities and was recruited to play college basketball for the University of North Carolina. While playing as a Tar Heel, Melendez appeared in the 1998 and 2000 Final Four tournaments.

He then went on to play for the Puerto Rican national team before joining the Globetrotters. “It was my goal to become a Globetrotter, and I worked hard to be able to become one after playing professionally,” Melendez said.

Although the Wednesday show will be all about the Globetrotters’ performance, the team is also giving back and offering two children a spot on the bench with them during the event.

“The Globetrotters were my inspiration growing up, and the Junior Globetrotter program allows us to be an inspiration for kids that were just like me,” Melendez said. “This will make two kids’ day, and this can help show them that dreams can come true.”

To enter the Junior Globetrotter contest, children ages 6-12 can email and attach a letter explaining why they deserve to be chosen as a Junior Globetrotter.

The winner will be picked Monday at noon and will receive a package that includes a family 4-pack of tickets, a meet-and-greet with the team, a Globetrotter t-shirt and an autographed basketball.

About the Harlem Globetrotters

The exhibition basketball team began in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five, according to their website. After more than 85 years and 20,000 games later, the team continues to bring their act that combines comedy and athleticism to fans around the United States, and in 122 countries and territories.