Fayette County

Globetrotter wows children at Lexington YMCA skills clinic

Harlem Globetrotter Blenda Rodriguez, left, spun a basketball on Jacob Hall's finger on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Lexington Center food court in Lexington, Ky.
Harlem Globetrotter Blenda Rodriguez, left, spun a basketball on Jacob Hall's finger on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Lexington Center food court in Lexington, Ky.

As the custodian stepped forward to pick up a basketball, the 6- and 7-year-olds from the High Street YMCA didn't give the man a second glance.

The children were in the food court at the Lexington Center on Saturday for a ball-handling skills clinic before the University of Kentucky's game against South Carolina.

They remained focused on their task until Blenda Rodriguez ripped off his brown coveralls to reveal Harlem Globetrotters warmups.

Eyes widened as the New York City native, a guard for the Globetrotters, began his own skills clinic. He showed the children and passersby some signature Globetrotter moves: spinning the ball on his finger, rolling it over his back and even juggling two balls while spinning a third.

The appearance by Rodriguez was part of a joint marketing effort to promote both the Globetrotters' game on Friday at Rupp Arena and the YMCA's youth programs, said Mike Massoglia, youth and adult sports director for the High Street YMCA.

Teams from the Y's 9- and 10-year-old league will play a game before the Globetrotters' game on Friday. Children from the 4- and 5-year-old league will sing YMCA at halftime of the game.

Massoglia was in on Rodriguez's surprise skills clinic, but the kids clearly weren't.

On Saturday, Rodriguez pulled William Auer, 7, from the group, put him on the floor and spun a ball on his foot.

When asked whether he would like to play basketball for the Globetrotters one day, William paused.

"I don't know; I'm only 7," William said. "No — I'm 7½ ."

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