Oak Ridge alum takes hoops trip to Poland

By: Brett Ransford Telegraph Correspondent
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Former Oak Ridge basketball point guard Matt Mendoza and 12 others will travel to Zakosciele, Poland, to participate in a basketball mission trip organized by PROeM Ministries and Rolling Hills Christian Church in El Dorado Hills. Mendoza and his older brother Tyler, both Oak Ridge alumni, accompanied their father Tony on the same trip a year ago. According to their website, PROeM Ministries is a non-profit Polish Christian mission founded in 1990, which promotes recreation through sports and games, along with Biblical teaching and spiritual growth. Last year RHCC approached the Mendoza men about participating in the mission. The church has been sending teams to assist PROeM in summer camps and basketball tournaments. While participating in basketball, PROeM also offers Bible correspondence courses, conferences and workshops geared toward Christianity. The group leaves on July 15 and returns July 24. The camp runs July 18-22 and after some sightseeing in Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz, they will be flying home. Before taking off for Europe, Mendoza and his brother needed to hold a fundraiser at RHCC on Thursday night to try and raise around $2,000. Last year he said it was difficult to raise the money, so he hoped the fundraiser would bring out some support. “I was basically sitting in class one day and thinking of ways to fundraise and it came to my mind. Sure enough, it came to life.” Mendoza and his brother said some of the money would pay for their trip as well as expenses for the other people traveling. The fundraiser had some basketball games and a 16-player bracket, where there was a shoot-out to determine a winner. Mendoza said about 25-30 people showed up. The camp Mendoza is participating in takes place at the Christian Youth Center in Zakosciele. It is a 15-acre campground with renovated dorms which sleeps 180 people, 2-4 per room. About 200 campers from countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and the United States will participate in the five days (Monday through Friday) of various basketball activities. A typical day consists of breakfast, a morning session of worship music and a message, Patrick Gallagher’s training and warm up, fundamental drills, lunch, 5-on-5 games, dinner, a night session, hanging out and sleeping. Campers will be put on teams, one NBA team which has teammates from other countries, and an international team which is only players from the same country. An NBA and International team are both crowned champions at the end of the camp. Gallagher, owner and principle trainer of Pure Athletix Human Performance Center in El Dorado Hills, will accompany Ron Simms of Simms Chiropractic in EDH and two current Trojan varsity basketball players, Josh Simms and Bryan Bare. The other six in Mendoza’s group are members of RHCC. In his second year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Mendoza said he absolutely loves living in the coastal city. He also said the trip to Poland gives him a chance to regroup and get his mind and priorities straight. “I’ll be able to serve the Lord and love on the campers there in Poland. It will be a good week for spiritual growth as well as personal growth,” said Mendoza. Highlights of Mendoza’s career at Oak Ridge included big rivalry games against Ponderosa and Vista del Lago and playing to packed gymnasiums with some of his best friends. He uses those experiences to translate an indescribable feeling into missionary service work for hundreds across the world. “Last year we were able to build relationships with the campers so we’ll be able to see them again this summer and that’s really exciting,” said Mendoza. “We’ll also now be more effective teaching basketball as well as building those relationships with campers.” RHCC also held a youth basketball camp June 27-30 with Oak Ridge coaches to raise money for PROeM. Anyone interested in donating can contact Matt Mendoza directly, (916) 365-3196 or