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November 12, 2008 > Hayward Youth Academy sponsors "Diamon Center Nights"

Hayward Youth Academy sponsors "Diamon Center Nights"

By Biff Jones

Under the leadership of Hayward Youth Academy (HYA) founder, Chris Major, and in conjunction with St. Mary's College (SMC) in Moraga, many Hayward youths will be treated to three SMC men's basketball games during the 2008-09 season at McKeon Pavilion on the St. Mary's campus.

"Diamon Center Nights" is designed to inspire youths to academic and athletic achievement while attending junior high, high school and college. 300 youths per game will be chosen to attend the game based on their work ethic in the weeks prior to each game.

Diamon Center is the name of a section in the stands at McKeon Pavilion that has been set aside for the 300 attending youths, and is named after Diamon Simpson, a 6'7" senior forward on this year's SMC men's basketball varsity. Simpson has been a first team all West Coast Conference (WCC) player as an underclassman; a graduate of Hayward High School; and helped his team to a California State High School Basketball runners-up trophy during his junior year in high school.

Simpson will be going out to talk to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade youths at various Hayward elementary schools about the value of keeping up their grades and attending college to aid in achieving their goals in life. He visited Bowman Elementary last month, and will be visiting Markham Elementary School on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 9:30 a.m.

HYA, which serves youths from 9 to 15, had hoped to have Simpson talk to the students at Hayward High, but was told by the SMC Athletic Department that the visit could be a recruiting violation. So instead, HYA wants to take 25 Hayward High varsity boys and girls basketball players to the "Diamon Center Nights" games.

At half time of the "Diamon Center Nights" 20 students from Bowman and 10 students from Markham will be honored with a Diamon Simpson Award. The difference in numbers is because of the enrollment sizes of the two schools. Helping decide the award winners will be Bowman and Markham principals, Maria Rivera and Diana Levy. After the games the students will be able to meet Simpson, Patty Mills (Simpson's Australian Olympian teammate) and other members of the SMC men's basketball varsity.

Major also is planning on starting U-10 AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) teams in basketball and baseball.

Scheduled games for Diamon Center Nights at McKeon Pavilion are: Friday, Nov. 14, 7:05 p.m. against Seattle Pacific University; Saturday, Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m. vs. San Jose State; and Thursday, Feb. 5, at 8:30 p.m. in a WCC rival game against University of San Francisco, which will also be a Comcast Cable game.

HYA could not have made this all possible without the sponsorship of Sport Clips Haircuts, Anthony Pontes w/Rice Pontes Capital, Vision Press Inc., Mark S. Giovanetti Consulting, Mikes Sports Lounge and Grill, Michael Brisbin '84, Joe Motta '84 and Martin Land Company for the first game of the three "Diamon Center Nights."

For more information, you can contact Chris Major by calling 510-677-5653 or e-mail

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