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Community update: Hawks partner with APS; Pierce, Koonin appear on ‘Game Time’

Atlanta’s basketball club is making sure the cities’ youth is staying active.

Fulton County Commissioners And The Atlanta Hawks To Honor NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images

Kids may be forced to sit in front of a screen for seven-to-eight hours to learn nowadays, but the Atlanta Hawks organization is doing its part in making an unideal situation more manageable.

On Thursday, the Hawks announced a formal partnership with Atlanta Public Schools for an online program for students to stay educated and active during this time of social distancing called “Hawks at Home.”

“The pandemic has limited student access to extracurricular programs,” Jon Babul, Atlanta Hawks’ Vice President of Basketball Development, said. “We are thrilled to partner with Atlanta Public Schools to bring the Hawks at Home program to the APS community. Working together to promote healthy living and providing physical, social and emotional learning opportunities to students is teamwork at its finest.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawks coaches, players and Hawks Basketball Academy instructors have taught basketball skills, from their own homes, to students across the state of Georgia and beyond.

The program launched at the beginning of this past summer, and more than 10,000 area youth have participated, according to Hawks communications.

Now partnered with APS, the students in the city have access to the Hawks’ weekly program focusing on health and wellness.

“Time and again, we have been humbled by the support of the Atlanta Hawks and we are especially excited about Hawks at Home,” Rachel Sprecher, APS Executive Director of Partnerships and Development, said. “Every week, our students and our school community look forward to working out with the team’s trainers and pros and we’re so grateful for this outlet for them to get moving and have fun!”

The Hawks have partnered with APS previously, including when the organization presented a special “Hawks at Home” live class for hundreds of students during the school system’s “Back to School Bash.”

To register for upcoming “Hawks at Home” live classes, visit Hawks.com/HawksatHome.

Earlier this week, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and team president Steve Koonin joined NBA TV’s “Game Time” to discuss the team’s decision to push for making State Farm Arena a voting precinct in Fulton County. Koonin said when he saw the passion of Atlanta’s youth in front of the CNN Center and State Farm Arena in wake of the George Floyd protests, he wanted to see how the organization could lead tangible change.

Koonin presented the idea of converting State Farm Arena into a voting location, which Pierce made public during an NAACP protest in June. Pierce said it was an honor for him to volunteer at State Farm Arena for a few hours to help the voting process move as smoothly as possible during general election early voting.

“You remove the ‘head coach’ title, and you just go down and do your civic duty as a citizen in this county and in this city,” Pierce said. “I’ve been honored to be there, and see the many people come through the arena. The opportunity we have at our arena with 300 voting stations and the many staff members that we have in our organization we have volunteering as well, it just seems like this is how voting should be. We should be able to just walk to the front of the line, get registered, get our information taken care of, get our ballot, get right to the booth and exercise our right. In less than 20 minutes, in less than 15 minutes, you’re people who are so excited about that experience to vote. Like Steve said, we’ve had tens of thousands of voters come through the county in just nine days.”

The segment ended by briefly revisiting the celebrity guests Pierce brought in on the team’s Zoom calls throughout the pandemic. The head coach said he wasn’t much of a talker, and bringing in guests was a way to keep the energy of the Zoom calls fresh.

The full video can be seen here and a clip of the segment can be viewed below.