No doubt about it, “Chops” would have been proud of his Funkateers on Friday.
The Gold Coast Funkateers, a drill team based at Samuel B. Huey Elementary School (52nd and Pine), performed in the school’s auditorium, the kind of smooth, disciplined performance that their fallen leader, Drill Master Gregory “Chops” Scott, would have liked. Chops was helping to groom the Funkateers to become members of the Gold Coast Buccaneers, the fabled West Philly-based drill team and community outreach organization.
Scott, 55, a beloved community leader, was murdered in front of his home on the 200 block of S. Millick Street on Feb. 27. Police charged his cousin and another man with the shooting death.
The Funkateers were his last team. Scott’s widow, Alfreda “Cookie” Scott, sat with other older Buccaneers in the front row for Friday’s performance.
Show organizers said they wanted to remember Scott’s life and not his death. The Huey students he worked with took the stage dressed in Gold Coast Buccaneers colors, yellow and black, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Scott. A group of Gold Coast elders and third grade teacher Sharon Bryant led the team through their steps. Bryant and the Standing in the Gap Foundation helped Scott make the Funkateers a reality. Standing in the Gap is a community enrichment foundation that was founded in memory of Bryant’s son, Donovan, who died in 2008.
“I met Chops out there in the schoolyard, on that emblem, and a very powerful partnership was formed” said Bryant, referring to the Gold Coast Buccaneers logo on the Huey playground. “It started with a few children up in my classroom and evolved into what you see today.”
The Gold Coast Buccaneers are based a few blocks from the school and have a tradition of community service in the neighborhood dating back to the 1960s. Their mission is “to provide leadership, inter-generational recreation, discipline, culture, education and values while creating services and support to improve the quality of life in their respective communities.” The kids who are admitted to the program have to follow a regimented program of discipline and ethics. The organization even keeps an eye on their grades. Older Buccaneers, like Chops, serve as mentors and hope to keep the Gold Coast Buccaneers tradition alive. To do so they will need younger recruits, much like the ones that graced the stage at Huey.
- Mike Lyons