More than 50,000 inmates live behind the razor fences and armored guard towers of Pennsylvania’s prison system. Every day, more than 2,500 are involved in violent fights and must be separated from the rest of the population for a time.
In partnership with Saints Prison Ministry since 2011, Push The Rock has hosted intense basketball games against teams of inmates. Push The Rock and Saints Prison Ministry field teams of volunteer coaches, players, and fans to help us take the rock to the basket and the Rock of Ages to the hearts of these men.
Our ministry inside Pennsylvania’s prison has three parts. First, we present the Gospel during halftime at the game. Instead of retreating to the locker rooms, the players take a water break and both players and spectators hear the presentation. Secondly, we build relationships with these men that allow us to become mentors. These ongoing relationships are vital for these men to grow, change, and never re-enter the system after parole. Thirdly, we play sweaty, competitive, physical basketball. These aren’t pick-up games on a playground. The inmates look forward to these games and prepare with passion and spirit.
Will you join us in some capacity? Click here to get more information about playing, coaching, or cheering from the stands at the next in-prison game.
2016 Push The Rock Basketball Schedule
Saturday, January 14 – SCI – Rockview
Saturday, January 28 – SCI Waymart
Saturday, February 11 – SCI Retreat & SCI Dallas
Saturday, February 25 – SCI – Frackville & SCI – Mahanoy
Saturday, March 11 – SCI – Coal Township
Saturday, March 25 – SCI Retreat
Coach: Kyle Stramara (570) 573-2269
Push The Rock office: (717) 737-3550 ext. 403
*Please remember that it is YOUR responsibility to notify your coach at least 48 hours before a game if you cannot attend (except for emergencies), or if you plan to drive directly to the institution.
Where are the prisons located?
Every prison that we work in is currently within a 3-hour radius of our office. Our office is located at 647 Walnut Street, Emmaus, PA 18049
State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill
2500 Lisburn Rd
Lower Allen, PA 17001
State Correctional Institution at Coal Township
1 Kelley Dr
Coal Township, PA 17866
State Correctional Institution at Dallas
1000 Follies Rd
Dallas, PA 18612
State Correctional Institution at Graterford
Perkiomen, PA 19426
State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy
301 Morea Rd
Frackville, PA 17932
State Correctional Institution at Retreat
660 State Route 11
Hunlock Creek, PA 18621
When is the prison basketball season?
Our season typically runs from December through March with games being played on Saturdays. We occasionally have special events outside of the existing season.
Q: How many events are scheduled in a season?
A: We will play eight or more events each season.
Q: Do I need to commit for the entire season, or can I play in just one game?
A: Our preference is that each player on the team would participate in at least three games; however please apply even if you are only able to participate in one game.
Q: What does a typical event look like?
A: Please note that time frames and meeting locations will vary depending on the location of the prison. Below is a sample schedule for one of our events.
8:30 am Depart from Greater Philadelphia location
9:15 am Depart from Lehigh Valley location
10:45 am Pre-game breakfast
12:00 pm Arrive at Prison
1:00 pm Game
3:00 pm Departure Time from Prison
Q: Is there a certain caliber of player you are looking for to participate in an event?
A: There is not a requirement for past basketball experience; however the events are highly competitive. We believe that it is important to put a quality team on the court for the games, and we do take this in consideration when processing applications. Please do not let this keep you from applying as there are various roles that can be filled at each of our events.
Q: Whom do we play against?
A: Our opponents consist of inmates from the facility we are visiting that day. Typically this team is an All-Star team made up of players that participate in the facilities recreation program.
Q: Are there spectators for the games?
A: Yes! Spectators at most of the games are comprised of inmates that have earned the privilege to attend, several armed guards, and a chaplain or two. We also have the ability to bring spectators of our own who are able to minister to the inmates in the stands during the games.
Q: How is the Gospel shared at these events?
A: A clear Gospel presentation is shared with the audience and opponents at half time. One player or coach from the Push The Rock team takes a few minutes to share a personal testimony of how God has shown His grace in their life. A different player or coach then follows up the personal testimony with a clear explanation of the Gospel. English and Spanish New Testaments are then made available to anyone that requests one. They include a response card that can be filled out for continued interaction.
Q: Is there follow up with the inmates we interact with?
A: SPM has a Pen Pal Program, Bible Correspondence School and a Birthday Card ministry available to inmates that fill out a response cards. Click here to find out more information for these programs.
Q: Can we send an entire team to an event, or do you only take individuals?
A: We would love to talk to you about taking your entire or partial team to one of our events. Each team member would need to fill out an application, a clearance form, and participate in training for the event. Our schedule and time frame with the prison is not flexible, but we can work with you on the additional details of the trip. For more information please contact Kyle Stramara.
Q: What are the qualifications for volunteers to participate?
A: A volunteer must have a willingness to serve with Push The Rock, a commitment to fulfill financial obligations for the trip, and a commitment to prepare spiritually and physically for the trip.
Q: Is there an age requirement for the trips?
A: Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to apply, but there is no maximum age requirement for a trip.
Q: What positions are available on a trip?
A: You can volunteer as a player, coach, fan, or prayer partner. Click here to view details for each position.
Q: What is the application process?
A: Fill out a Prison Ministry Application and e-mail it to Kyle Stramara. Be sure to mention if someone referred you.
Q: How long does it take to process an application?
A: Once we have received your application, we will contact you within 7 days to schedule a phone interview.
Q: Why do we meet for breakfast?
A: Breakfast is a great opportunity to gather together and get to know your teammates before you arrive at the prison. Someone will typically share a brief challenge from Scripture and spend some time in prayer. This is also a time for training and for veteran players to share their experience from previous events.
Q: Do I need Prayer Partners?
A: We ask that every player has at least two prayer partners who are willing to pray for them leading up to and during the day in prison.
Q: Can I take anything into the prison with me?
A: If it is not on the gate memo we provide to the prison in advance, it cannot go into the prison. We take in our spiritual literature, basketballs, jerseys, a sound system, and writing utensils. Each individual is allowed to take in their basketball equipment and their driver’s license. Keys and driver’s licenses will be left at the gate.
Q: Will I be safe in the prison?
A: There is always a risk when you step into a prison. Throughout the prison and inside of the gymnasium there are armed guards readily available in the case of an emergency. During the years that Push The Rock has been involved with prison ministry, there have been zero incidents where the safety of a team member was at risk. By remaining respectful and aware at all times we have been able to prevent any opportunity for risk.
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