Toys for Tots Exhibition Game

Posted by Mark King on October 27, 2010 with No Comments
in King's Flight Blog

The Flight will be playing an exhibition game in December to benefit Toys For Tots. I’m excited because people are hurting this holiday season because of the economy. There will be heavier load of needy people. We’re ironing out the details of the game, but it will entail something like $10 tickets, bring a toy to donate and get in for $5, or get an extra ticket free, or something like that. We’ll see.

We also plan to take a portion (hopefully half) of the profit from ticket sales to buy more toys. We visited the Crisis Nursery for the Children’s Home Society of Florida, and the kids could use a new outdoor basketball goal (the one we played on needed wire to hold the lever in place to keep the rim elevated). Hopefully we’ll have a big enough turn out to purchase one for them for Christmas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how far along the Flight has come in just one year. It’s really quite humbling and amazing to me. I attribute our success to the fact that we truly do put most of our focus and effort (especially in the off-season) into investing in the community. Next week, I’ll begin monthly specialized basketball clinics for the PE program at Avalon Middle School, and next month we hope to launch two of our youth initiatives that will hopefully motivate young students to read and write more.

It’s interesting, because part of me worries that people will mistake us for a community program and not a minor league basketball team. I probably have put 70-80 percent of my time and energy into the community side and the rest into the basketball team. It’s a good thing we have so many talented players that are professional enough to take the develoment side of their careers seriously. So many minor league teams throw players together a month before the season starts and hope for the best. We have guys that stay involved with the Flight all year, and that’s super valuable.

I’m contemplating allowing people to purchase tickets for the Toys For Tots game that will be donated to underprivelaged families and children like we did throughout the season. Expanding our available ticket sales market would definitely help us grab a larger profit at the gate. We have developed some solid relationships with organizations connected with underprivelaged families and children, so finding kids that want to come and distributing the tickets  won’t be a problem. I am hesitant because I don’t want to rely too much on those people unable to come to a game. I’d prefer relying on our OWN community to support OUR community.

I guess it’s similar to the problems that churches have – we look only at our individual communities instead of seeing each church and denomination as the whole Body of Christ. Churches are hesitant to ask other neighboring churches for help out of fear that it will show a sign of weakness and self-sufficiency. Sometimes there is a weaker hand, and we need the strength of that other hand to accomplish a goal, or we need to lift with our legs instead of our back. I don’t want to get too metaphorical, but maybe we SHOULD utilize every resource to make sure that every kid gets a toy for Christmas. If people from a distance can afford a $10 ticket to help kids in our area get a toy, I guess that’s not such a bad thing. It’s only a $10 ticket. Ehhhh…we’ll see.

I hope to have the details of the game available soon. Be on the look out for that on our website: www.flighthoops.com! Let’s all remember that we are one big community. Let’s do what we can to make for a memorable Christmas season. People are in need. Don’t be bashful this year – about asking for help or providing it!

PS. Did I mention I started listening to Christmas music already? LOL

No Shovels…

Preparations for 2011 Season

Posted by Mark King on October 11, 2010 with No Comments
in King's Flight Blog

It’s been a tough Monday for me. I still haven’t gotten a chance to work out. I’ve been busy working on some marketing projects for HigherLife Development Services, the company that I’m going to publish my book through.

I’ve agreed to start leading a specialized PE day for Avalon Middle School once per month. We’re contemplating relocating our team to play there next season. They have a very new, clean gymnasium that seats over 1,300, the right size for us as we grow. The PE department and school staff have immediately shown us a lot of support. I can’t believe how simple it was to connect with them. Doing a PE basketball camp once a month is going to be so much fun.

On a downside, I’ve been struggling with a couple of things I’d prefer to leave unspoken for now. It’s nothing too big…just some things that are troubling me and my decision-making process. It never fails – you start sprinting down the path you believe God intends for you to embark, and difficulties surface out of no where. If you can remember to say just a brief 10 second prayer that God will comfort me and enlighten me on how best to handle these things, I know I’ll be better off.

I’m excited about the new Flight Blog as well. I’ve asked Andy Haas to write something about his recent trip home to Indiana. He lost his Grandfather this past week or so ago, so pray for him as well. He also attended an American Basketball Association tryout while there. He loves the Flight, but Indiana is his home. He figured it would be worth a shot to see if he could do what he loves in Indiana. I think him and his wife are a bit homesick, especially with the birth of their newborn. I’ll let him write more about that, and it will be posted in the Florida Flight Blog (www.flighthoops.com/blog).

Well….time to read some Church History. I have class tomorrow afternoon, and I need to catch up on some reading.

No Shovels…

#14: Entry 1

Posted by Mark King on October 8, 2010 with No Comments
in #14: The Autobiography of Mark Anthony King!

It was dark and lonely night. It was the type of night where no one is around, so it feels safe to cry. So I cried. It wasn’t one of those hard cries. It was a numbing, drought-like cry. One of those cries where all you hear inside your head is “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” Like the pipes had rusted from a lack of water flow. Emotionally, I was drained. I’ve always been the type of person that pours himself into everything – my relationships, my hopes and dreams, all of my ambitions. Unfortunately, more times than not, the same commitment is not returned.

The yellow lines in the middle of the road got longer and longer as I drifted south down US-23. I can’t say for certain that I was paying any attention to the road. I was in a daze, dwelling on the last couple of years of my life. It was a good thing there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Mostly a few 18-wheelers burning the midnight oil. I had tons of questions to occupy my time. What was becoming of my life? Why was it that everything that I really wanted seemed to escape me at the most ill-opportune times? If you get what you give, why wasn’t I getting? I’d given all of me…to everything…to everybody. I felt like I had nothing more to give. It didn’t seem right to be left standing empty-handed.

This late night drive was a drive that changed my life. If there was ever a time where I felt God orchestrating my specific circumstances to help me draw a sparticlar conclusion, it was this moment. In case you are clueless, God created us for relationships. Relationships with Him, with each other… Heck, even with ourselves! If you look at the Ten Commandments, they can be classified as two sets of rules: love God, and love other people. They are relationally focused. It took this painful situation to direct my mind towards this reality.

One thing that amazes me is how I get these revelations about myself. Have you noticed how often you learn something new about yourself? I mean…shouldn’t we know everything there is to know about ourselves? We should…but we don’t. We rarely spend ample time dwelling on our experiences. We’re too busy rushing through life, concerned with the next event…the secondary things like money and popularity, when all the while, God stands in our midst every second of our day. We all know, all too well, how it feels to long for companionship. No one wants to be alone, and as teenagers, the immediate tendency is to focus all attention on finding that significant other to share intimacy with. We need to feel included in something…with someone.

My pain in this situation reminded me that God longs for me, too. It’s strange to think of an almighty God longing for someone as simple and feeble as me. Why was I important? What, exactly did He want from me? How did He expect me to handle this lonesomeness…this hurt that left me feeling devalued and worthless? This night, there was no doubt. God wanted my undivided attention…for the rest of my life.

The motivation for me to take off on this spontaneous drive was rooted in relational issues. I’ll unravel the specifics leading me to this drive later. Basically, I’m one of those guys who likes to get in a car and drive when my thoughts are heavy. There’s something hypnotizing about it. It was a year or so after high school graduation, and I had placed myself in this existence bubble…this bubble where you realize the responsibilities that life brings and you do what you have to do to meet those expectations. Like clock work, things like car payments, insurance, pager bills (cell phones were for the wealthy at this stage of my life)…every month these had to be paid. Of course, a little extra money to go on a date or two was also needed. I couldn’t, at that time, even fathom paying rent for a place to live as well.

Regardless of those responsibilities, there were two things that were most important to me at this point of my life: basketball, and finding my soul mate. I thought I had found the latter. Actually, as strange as it might sound, I thought I may have found two, which was strange, and I’ll explain that later as well. On this night, I discovered that I was wrong about both. Factor in my obsession to play basketball at the highest level, yet the closest I had come to play organized basketball was church recreation league, and you can imagine the twisted, confusing complexities inside of my head. Alone, underachieved, and feeling hopeless about my future, I escaped into my 1996 Saturn SL1 for US-23 South, with no intentions of coming back north any time soon.

Return of the Blog!

Posted by Mark King on October 8, 2010 with No Comments
in King's Flight Blog

My name is Mark King...and I am second!

My name is Mark King…and I am second!

 

When I was in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), I blogged almost every day. I remember going to games and having people approach me that had found my website and blog just to tell me they were inspired, encouraged, and praying for me. It’s not uncommon for people to have the big dream of playing professional basketball. It’s very rare to see people we know actually attain such a dream, or even to get close. My days in the CBA were the days I felt closest. By human standards, I wasn’t supposed to be there. I think that was the beauty of the blog. Despite the odds, and what people thought, reality was telling a different story. It was a story that resonated with the throwback American Dream: work hard, have faith, trust God, and chase success down with reckless abandon.

I’ve had a lot going on since my days with the East Kentucky Miners of the CBA. A lot of ups and downs…highs and lows. I had mountains came for me to climb, and the peace and serenity of a coast down a river after enduring the worst of rapids to enjoy. Of late, I’ve been hearing God in ways reminiscent of the days when He led me towards things that were as difficult as seeing a mustard seed from miles away. Thank God that He provided me with binoculars to see that mustard seed. He’s helped me dig up those same binnoculars for the renewal of yet another mountainous journey.

I’ll be categorizing my blog better this time, for there is much to write. You’ll notice two categories on the right. One is #14, and the other King’s Flight Blog. #14 will include excerpts from the book that will still be written and published via HigherLife Development Services. King’s Flight Blog will be a category that will chronicle the next step in my basketball journey. What is that journey? Well…let me be the first to officially announce:

Mark King will play for the Florida Flight this season!

I launched the Florida Flight last season with these intentions. Unfortunately, the task of getting the “Flight off the ground” was monumental. I feared failure, and believe me, failure knocked on our door many times last season. What I learned was that God was in complete control, and my worry only haulted the vision that God really gave me for the Flight. My story…and the story of the Flight is so much more than a basketball story, or a story of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream, or a place of opportunity for players as hungry as me.

Thursday, I was in chapel service listening to John Michael Talbot. If you didn’t know, I am pursuing a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary-Dunham Campus in Orlando. Talbot, a Cathloic monk, shared with us some of his meditation practices. I had never been one to meditate. I joined everyone as Talbot led us in song while we meditated, and shortly thereafter, I felt as connected to God as I had been in years. It’s crazy what a little controlled, focused breathing can do. During that process, a question came to me:

What kind of impact for the Kingdom of God would there be if I actually got to play in the NBA?

I was shocked. Playing in the NBA had been the farthest thing from my mind over the last few years. I was content just to have my own minor league basketball team. Where did this question come from? It came from that old rugged NBA dream that I recognized as a child. That mustard seed action of getting in my car and heading down US 23 South in the middle of the night to learn about Pikeville College. That locker room before playing my first varsity college game when God showed me the meaning of the number 14. That 4 months in 2007-2008 in the CBA when I ws the first to arrive and the last to leave practices at the East Kentucky Expo Center hoping to finally get that #14 jersey to wear in a real game. It came from the same source of motivation that drove me for all of those activities: it came from my heavenly Father!

Look, I don’t know if I’m crazy. Maybe I am a little crazy. Most Christians (REAL Christians are). I don’t know if I even have a shot (most people, even those that might say differently to my face, probably will not think so), or even if I do have a shot, whether or not the opportunity will present itself. I don’t know anything more than I did when I ran all over the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan declaring my ambition to play professional basketball. Here is what I do know:

I know that I have no reason not to try. I know I cannot erase the moments in my life that keep resurfacing where God did the unthinkable, or the comments from people in Pikeville after playing my first CBA game. I know I cannot help but be reminded of Abraham and Sarah who had Isaac despite being much further along in age than humanity thought was possible. I know that I remain driven to give it one last shot. I know that, with this proclamation, I will open myself up to much ridicule from people who inaccurately tab me as a self-serving, self-promoting, crazy dreamer out of touch with reality. I know the monumental task that lies ahead, and that there will be days in which I will not feel like running those extra sprints, or spending that extra 30 minutes lifting weights, or getting up early enough to stretch in the morning before starting my day, or carving out significant moments for reflection and personal devotion time with God.

Embarking on the pursuit of a dream is always exciting before it requires hard work. The bottom line is this: I want to live a life that does more than prove I’m a Christian to others. I want to live a life that moves others to the same faith – not by preaching as much as by action. Our world needs more Simon-Peter folk willing to get out of the boat and walk on water, even if but for a second or two. I believe that God has called me to this purpose. Regardless of whether or not I make it to the NBA, I know that dreams are the road map that God uses to get us to where He intends for us to be! I’m claiming His many promises: promises that motivated me as a shild, as a college student, and now as a husband and father. Promises that I believe are true, and will remain true as I take one more shot at achieving my childhood dream.

Last night, after running 2 miles out of the mere excitement of what I felt God telling me in chapel that day, a song from the soundtrack of The Passion of the Christ came through my headphones as I began cooling down from the workout. I started thinking about how painful it must have been for Jesus to endure the cross. I hadn’t ran but one other time in months. I was beat. I was winded. My body ached. Still yet, I had this overwhelming urge to go run the same 2 miles a second time. As I listened to that song continue, I walked off of my front porch, back into the street, put one foot in front of the other and set out to complete a 4 mile run for the night — at 12:00 midnight! You know what? That’s what it will take. Hard work like that. Compete obedience to God when He is moving me to go that extra mile (or 2 in this case). You know what’s funny? I don’t even hurt that much today. Just another example of God’s omnipotence.

So there it is…I have finally announced the comeback. Now there is no turning back. I plan to chronicle this journey right here! I hope you all enjoy the reading, and, above all, that you are inspired to devote the fullness of your life to the God that made you. You were innately designed with passions and talent you were meant to pursue. Chase it with reckless abandon! Your destiny requires it!

NO SHOVELS!