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December 24, 2008 > Diamon Center Nights part two

Diamon Center Nights part two

By Biff Jones

Saturday, Dec.27, at 7:30 p.m., the second of Diamon Center Nights will be held at McKeon Pavilion on the campus of St. Mary's College (SMC) in Moraga. Over 400 Bay Area youths will be treated to a men's varsity basketball game between the St. Mary's Gaels and the San Jose State Spartans.

Diamon Center is a section in the stands where youths sit and is named in honor of Diamon Simpson, a 6-foot-7 senior forward for St. Mary's. Simpson helps Chris Major, founder of Hayward Youth Academy (HYA), talk to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade youths about the value of staying in school and keeping up their grades while in junior high and high school. This will enable them to go on to college in order to achieve their goals in life.

Youths from Markham Elementary in Hayward; St. Leo's, including their fifth-grade cheerleaders and girls basketball team; St. Lawrence O'Toole of Oakland; and the Richmond Steelers' youth football team are expected to attend the game.

At halftime there will be a five-minute youth basketball game between St. Bede's Fifth-Grade American basketball team of Hayward (representing Alameda County and coached by Chris Major) and St. Perpetus's Fifth Grade American boys team of Lafayette (representing Contra Costa County).

St. Mary's is off to an 8-1 start, largely because of the play of Simpson. The Gaels are on a course for postseason play, which may include the NCAA Tournament in March.

Thursday, Feb. 5, at 9 p.m. will be the third and final Diamon Center Nights when the Gaels host West Coast Conference rival, San Francisco Dons, at McKeon Pavilion. This will also be a Comcast Cable game.

HYA is open to youths, 9-15. For more information, contact Chris Major at 510-677-5653 or e-mail

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