A Helping Hand
The three Detroit Shock newcomers, eager to prove their worth to teammates, got their chance Monday night at the seventh annual Tip-A-Shock charity fundraiser. The entire team helped serve patrons at the Mountain Jacks Steakhouse in Auburn Hills, working for tips during the dinner rush hour.
If you can call it working.
The players had so much fun during their cameo night jobs chatting with Shock fans (and making new ones), they raised $4,400 for the American Diabetes Association almost effortlessly.
“I think all of the teams have their own niche that they do in order to give to charity, and give back to the fans at the same time,” said Lovelace, who joined the Shock, her seventh WNBA team, last week. “This is definitely unique and I’ve never done anything like this before but I’m enjoying myself.”
The former DePorres High School star never had a serving job growing up in Detroit. “That’s why I’m kind of excited,” the 6-foot-4 forward said. “I’m like, ‘I want to take orders! I want to take orders!’ The waiter I’m working with, he’s been letting me do quite a bit, so it’s exciting.”
Hornbuckle displayed the same dogged mentality that has made her one of the WNBA’s top defenders. “We have one table, right,” she said shortly after the players started serving at 6 p.m. “They’re eating their appetizers, enjoying their time … and we need more tables. I’m trying to make more money!”
Hornbuckle wouldn’t have to wait long for every table to fill, which is how it stayed the next two and a half hours. “This is different but I really like it,” she added. “I’m very sociable if you haven’t noticed.”
Fellow rookie Tasha Humphrey also got into the act. After spending a few minutes sitting with Lois Durocher and her family, Humphrey made sure emcee Aaron Smith had everyone in the restaurant wish Lois a happy birthday. Durocher knew nothing beforehand of the Tip-A-Shock event, and hasn’t been to a Shock game. Yet.
“I never have,” said Durocher, who has three daughters between 14 and 22. “But we definitely think we will go to one now.”
Humphrey also won over first-year Squad Member Margie Spring. “Tasha Humphrey is like my new favorite player,” said Spring, who has attended Shock games for years. “And I got to talk to her and have a picture taken with her. We had a great time.”
Guard Shay Murphy, acquired in a late June trade with Minnesota, took the opportunity to introduce herself to the fans she hadn’t spent much time with since joining the team. “It’s really cool, really down to earth. Easy to mingle and meet some of the fans,” Murphy said of her first Tip-A-Shock experience. “They’ve got some real veteran season-ticket holders here.”
As is often the case, the players’ competitive nature took over, and Murphy was right in the middle of it. Having exhausted her customers for autograph requests and posing for photos – each courtesy of a $1 tip – Murphy offered to dance for additional contributions.
“I feel pretty good right now, I feel confident,” Murphy said around 7:30 p.m., shaking the red apron that each player wore to hold their tips. “I’m walking with a limp because my apron’s too heavy.”
Murphy’s haul included more than her hard-earned tips. She joined Hornbuckle, Elaine Powell and Olayinka Sanni in making a personal donation to the ADA.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said J.R. Bohn, general manager of Mountain Jacks. “The players from the Shock are so genuine, they’re so nice to our guests and their fans, it’s really wonderful to see athletes caring like that in this day and age.”
The Shock kept the seven-year-old event fresh by presenting the ADA as a first-time beneficiary and finding a new location – the Mountain Jacks Steakhouse on Opdyke Road, just minutes from The Palace. “We came tonight because it was at Mountain Jacks and it was closer,” Spring said.
The proximity to The Palace was a hit with many fans, drawing what Shock director of business operations Alicia Jeffreys called “an amazing turnout.”
“This is probably the highest attended Tip-A-Shock we’ve ever had, so it’s nice that it’s growing,” Jeffreys said. “With a new venue, we weren’t sure how it was going to do but the people seem to love the food and the management at Mountain Jacks is awesome. They’ve been really good to us.”
Bohn, who has been with the steakhouse for the better part of 14 years, said Monday’s event was only the second or third time he’s let a group take over restaurant operations. He appreciated the view from afar.
“When The Palace and the players come down with an army of people and all the fans and all of our guests, it really gives you a good feeling, to tell you the truth,” he said.
In other words, this Tip-A-Shock was well done.