Air apparent

March 05, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

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Reggie "Air Man" Dixon feels right at home talking to children, but the Harlem Globetrotter doesn't take the responsibility lightly.

"I'm always nervous before I talk in front of kids, because I know what I say can have an impact on their lives," Dixon said Tuesday during a visit to Western Heights Middle School.

The 6-foot guard was in Hagerstown to promote the team's game Saturday, March 7, at 8 p.m. at Hagerstown Junior College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center. The Globetrotters will take on the New York Nationals.


While in Hagerstown Tuesday, Dixon also made appearances at Boys and Girls Club of Washington County and Valley Mall.

Dixon, 33, is considered one of the leaders for the Globetrotters, and he is one of their main spokesmen. He spends about two weeks of each month serving as an advance ambassador, traveling to the cities where the team is scheduled to perform.

His duties are to promote the team and inspire youths to stay in school and away from drugs.

"Kids need to have self-esteem and to believe in themselves," Dixon said.

The Globetrotters long have been known as role models, beloved all over the world for their combination of comedy, style and skill on the basketball court.

"We play everywhere but the moon, and we're working on that," Dixon said.

On Jan. 12 the Globetrotters played the 20,000th game of their 72-year career, a milestone no other team in professional sports ever has reached.

The team has lost more than 300 games, Dixon said, adding that it has claimed more than 19,000 victories. The Globetrotters play about 200 games a year.

Dixon, known for his dunking skills, has been a Globetrotter for nine years. He has played more than 1,000 games in 43 countries, and he earned his nickname because of his 52-inch vertical jump.

He said there only have been 390 Harlem Globetrotters, and he's proud to be part of the tradition.

"You could say I've made history," he said.

Dixon, who has a 10-year-old son, Reginald Jr., and a 13-year-old daughter, Deondria, said he communicates with kids by coming down to their level.

"I realize I live most children's dream, to be a professional athlete," Dixon said.

He said he lets them know their chances of making it in professional sports are slim, so they need a good education. Even if they do succeed in sports, the money won't last forever, he said.

His wife, Kim, is a teacher, and the family lives in Houston. When he's not working with the Globetrotters, he volunteers with the city's United Way chapter, YMCA and Special Olympics.

Dixon also is finding that the younger Globetrotters are looking to him for inspiration.

"I'm passing the torch on to the younger generation," he said.

Dixon said he plans to play for the Globetrotters for about another year, and then he will become a full-time coach for the team.

He said one of his most rewarding experiences happened last year. He taught five blind children how to do basketball tricks, and they performed them at a game in Phoenix.

"There wasn't a dry eye in the arena," he said.

Harlem Globetrotters Tickets

"What Sports Should Be" Tour

When: Saturday, March 7, at 8 p.m.

Where: Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Junior College, 11400 Robinwood Drive

Tickets: $70 for courtside reserved seats - this includes a Globetrotters jersey; $25 for reserved seats; $12 for adult general admission; $10 for general admission for children ages 12 and younger or senior citizens ages 60 and older

Details: The show is sponsored by Hagerstown Junior College Hawk Booster Club, and proceeds will be used for athletic scholarships.

For tickets: Tickets are available at the Hagerstown Suns, or charge by phone at 1-800-538-9967.

For information: Call 301-790-2800, extension 369.

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