OCEAN SPRINGS (WLOX) - The St. Martin basketball team is playing above expectation. At 14-2 so far this season, the Yellow Jackets are definitely one of the best teams on the coast.
The key to their success is the many playmakers they have on the floor, but one of their biggest contributors doesn’t scratch the stat sheet. He does most of his work out of the spotlight.
“I suggest if people want to play basketball, I suggest here," team manager Latrell Thompson said. "St. Martin would be the best place to be.”
Meet Latrell Thompson, a senior team manager who’s day-to-day duties keep him pretty busy.
“I get the water, I help them with practice," Thompson said. "Do the film. Make sure I record it right.”
“I have a practice schedule printed for them and they run the clock according to it," said St. Martin head basketball coach Charlie Pavlus. "Sometimes they have to get drills, pads for rebounding. Latrell is a hard worker, unbelievable, but he’s doing an awful lot and does it with a smile.”
A smile that would soon grow even bigger. Just two days before Christmas, the team presented Latrell with a gift, a picture of a pair of headphones and not just any headphones - top-of-the-line Beats by Dre.
“Shocked, couldn’t hold back my tears, about to cry," Thompson said. I’m very grateful.”
Latrell was definitely in the market for some as players noticed his old ones starting to break. In Secret Santa fashion, the team rallied together to buy him new ones, with each player contributing ten dollars.
″Ever since I was a freshman, we did multiple things giving back to the community and every year for Christmas we adopt somebody," said junior guard Micah Harkey. “When we saw one of our own needed some help, we just felt like we had to help him.”
“He’s very generous. He loves us," junior guard Quinten Logan said. "You can tell the love whenever he comes to our practices. He loves us so much and it means the world to us to give back to him.”
The headphones didn’t make it in time for Christmas but when they finally arrived, Latrell’s reaction was priceless.
“Obviously, we work months upon months upon months to try to win basketball games, put ourselves in a position for district tournament and state playoffs and things like that,” said Pavlus. "But I’m more proud of what they did for Latrell than any win we’ve gotten so far this season.”
As St. Martin continues to pursue those victories, Latrell will be along for the ride, helping any way he can.
“These are my brothers and I don’t want anything bad to happen to them," Thompson said. "When I leave, I’ll always remember them.”