By TIM CLEVELAND
Two years ago, a fundraising basketball game between faculty and teachers at various Poland school and members of the Pittsburgh Steelers was a rousing success, with more than 2,000 tickets sold generating $8,000, which benefitted the local school district.
“I have been thinking about this for years,” Poland Union Elementary principal Mike Masucci said. “As a child watching my dad play against the Steelers. The same gentleman [Tom O’Malley] who thought this up years ago was still doing it. I called him for years and two years ago we finally came together.”
The second charity game will take place on March 20 at 8 p.m. at Poland Seminary High School.
Tickets went on sale Feb. 18 and cost $7, 60 percent of which go to the Steelers. In addition, Steelers players will autograph up to 10 items to be raffled off and will be signing autographs at halftime. Also, there will be a raffle at Union Elementary for a parent to get into the game in the fourth quarter.
Due to contract restrictions, no individual Steelers players can be promoted as appearing in the game, but between six and 10 players will be participating.
“We had such a great turnout the last time, that when word gets out some of the bigger names may want to participate,” Masucci said. “It’s a great PR opportunity and community service. Some of the players have foundations and some of the money may go toward them.”
Over the past 30 years, Steelers players have been appearing all over Mahoning County playing the charity games under the name Steelers Football Basketball Team.
“The benefits are certainly to get administrators and teachers out and participate in the game,” Masucci said. “It allows us to be seen in a different light. It’s a no-stress and fun event. There should be a huge amount of Terrible Towels being waved. It’s a good community event and an opportunity to make some money for our school.”
Masucci estimated that 95 percent of the teachers in Union Elementary played in the 2012 game. He said this year he’s also invited other community members to play.