Commitment: You're either in or you're out. There's no such thing as life in between.
- Sign taped to the office window in the Jamestown Red Raiders' locker room
At precisely 3:26 p.m., Wednesday, members of the Jamestown High School boys basketball team take their seats in their locker room at McElrath Gymnasium.
The Jamestown Red Raiders took a break in their playoff preparation to produce their own version of the “Harlem Shake’’ before practice earlier this week.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
It's three days before the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA quarterfinal game and the teenagers - all wearing their black T-shirts with "Faith" emblazoned on the back - are about to get a little "chalk talk" before heading out to practice.
At exactly 3:30 p.m., Coach Ben Drake, wearing a tan suit, white shirt and print tie, stands at the dry erase board and begins to diagram plays and the "keys" to the Red Raiders' upcoming Far West Regional at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Soon, music from a smart phone fills the air. And, with that, in walks someone decked out in the school mascot costume, retrieved from the school's vault located in the bowels of the building. The "Red Raider" gyrates to the sound of the "Harlem Shake," but the players continue to concentrate on their coach's instructions.
Then, seemingly from nowhere, a voice is heard.
"OK, good,'' said JHS physical education teacher and newly appointed team "producer and choreographer" Eric Sohl, who is standing on a ladder in the back of the room, a video recorder clutched in his hand.
Finally, Branden Kellam, the team's 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, begins to remove the mascot costume and makes a comment about how hot he is wearing that thing.
Funny, I think to myself, because, in reality, the Red Raiders are just getting warmed up.
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According to Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia, the "Harlem Shake," is an Internet meme "in the form of a video of various groups of people performing a comedy sketch accompanied by an ... excerpt from the song ''Harlem Shake.'' The video, Wikipedia notes, has been replicated by many in the last month and it became viral in early February, with thousands of "Harlem Shake'' videos being made and uploaded to YouTube every day. The Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association published their own version less than two weeks ago and, as of last night, there have been more than 37 million views.
Enter the Red Raiders, the newly minted Section 6 Class AA champions.
''Actually, it was me and Branden (Kellam's) idea,'' Drake said. ''When the Miami Heat 'Harlem Shake' came out last week ... we decided that if we won, we'd do one this week.''
So before Wednesday's practice, the team gathered in the locker room and performed as if they'd rehearsed it for months.
Hysterical doesn't accurately describe it.
To describe the costumes would be even more challenging, so I'll let you view for yourself (the video can be found on YouTube by searching "JHS Boys Basketball Harlem Shake'' or on the team website, jamestownbasketball.com and clicking on the ''videos'' icon).
''It's good to break up the week,'' said Drake, who is seen wearing a couple of retro basketball uniforms in the video. ''We've been working really hard. We obviously have a huge game coming up this weekend, but I think it's good to keep it light at times, have fun with them and to remember that although we want to win, we also need to enjoy the ride.''
Noted sophomore point guard Zack Panebianco: ''It was fun to do and it was nice to taking a break from practice for half an hour.''
The best seat for the premiere belonged to Sohl.
''Coach Drake approached me earlier this week and said they were thinking about making (a video) and I'd seen the Miami Heat one,'' he said. ''I was like, 'If you need someone to help out, I have all sorts of get-ups and all kinds of wacky stuff.''
Sohl also enjoys doing technical support.
''It's one of those little hobbies,'' he said.
So by early Thursday evening, the video was up and running.
By midnight, the views numbered 139.
''I give them an A-minus,'' Sohl said with a laugh. ''Some of the moves were a little shaky, but for the most part they did pretty well.''
All in all, the ''commitment'' was there.