Locals practice for Harlem Ambassadors

Published 9:55 am Thursday, March 15, 2012

Playing the Harlem Ambassadors on Monday, March 19, will be, from left in front, Tim Parsons, David Rabil, Coach Frank Rickman, Samantha Jones and Mike Johnson, and in back, Ben Dillon, David Gibbs, Rob Rickman, Nancy DeLeonardo, Danny Dillon and Robby Cutchins. DON BRIDGERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Memories of playing high school basketball came back to David Rabil while shooting hoops Sunday at the Franklin High School gym.

“I don’t remember being this out of shape,” said Rabil, a 1971 Franklin grad and owner of Fred’s restaurant.

Rabil was among local players practicing for a Franklin-Southampton Area United Way charity game against the Harlem Ambassadors at 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, at Southampton High School.

It’s hoped proceeds from the game can make up some of the United Way contributions lost due to International Paper closing its Franklin mill, said Chairman Frank Rickman.

“We decided we ought to do a fundraising event, and this is what we came up with,” Rickman said.

The Ambassadors travel around the country raising money through charity games and will take on the United Way Heroes, which consists of a celebrity team and a more serious team. The latter includes local coaches and former high school and college players, Rickman said.

Rock Church School Principal Ben Dillon will play with his brother, Franklin High School Basketball Coach Danny Dillon on the “serious team.”

“I’m excited,” Ben Dillon said. “I just wish it was 15 years earlier. I’m expecting to mess up a few times, but I hope that doesn’t happen.”

A 1991 graduate of Rock Church School, Ben Dillon played basketball there before playing at Paul D. Camp Community College and participating in track at Liberty University.

Franklin High School Assistant Coach Robby Cutchins, Nancy DeLeonardo from Insercorp, Southampton Academy Basketball Coach David Gibbs, Rob Rickman, Cover 3 Foundation Chief Executive Officer and former Washington Redskin Greg Scott and Javon Worrell will join the Dillons.

Samantha Jones, co-owner of Southern Sisters in Courtland, played basketball at Southampton Academy before graduating in 1997.

“I don’t think experience will help me,” Jones said. “I haven’t picked up a basketball in 15 years. I’m just going to try and survive.”

Jones will play on the celebrity team alongside Rabil, Franklin Mayor Jim Councill, Farm Bureau Insurance agent Jim Jervey, Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson, FHS Athletic Director Dave Lease, FHS Girls’ Basketball Coach Mona Sumblin, Southampton Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Phil Wright, WQLM’s Tim Parsons and Steve Stewart, publisher of The Tidewater News.

Tickets are $9 for adults in advance and $11 at the door. Student tickets are $7 in advance and $9 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Fred’s, James L. Camp Jr. YMCA, Boykins Beans and Ice Cream, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority or by calling 620-4434 or 569-8929.