Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Drug Court judge, coordinator to speak at national conference

June 20, 2006

A national audience on Friday will hear how basketball and softball fit into the Forrest and Perry County Drug Court recovery program.

Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich and 12th Circuit Adult Drug Court Coordinator Lucy Davenport are among the speakers Friday, June 23, at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Annual Drug Court Training Conference in Seattle, Wash. They will talk about innovative ways to keep Drug Court participants involved in recovery.

Helfrich’s Heroes play softball two nights a week during the summer and basketball two nights a week during the winter. They compete against other teams in the city of Hattiesburg’s intramural league. Sheriff Billy McGee coaches the softball team. Judge Helfrich is the third base coach. Between 30 and 40 Drug Court participants show up for games. It’s all volunteer.

They wear the team name Helfrich’s Heroes “because as long as they are in recovery, they are my heroes,” Judge Helfrich said. “Recovery is all about changing the old ‘people places and things,’ and by participating in the city sports leagues they are doing that. They are doing something that is both exercise and fun, and there is no alcohol or drugs. It’s to show them there are things that you can do that are enjoyable that don’t involve the drug of choice.”

Sports also provides encouragement to the participants, said Judge Helfrich, who cheers them on. “A lot of these people may have never had anybody ever cheer for them. I think they get a big lift from that.”

Officials of the National Association of Drug Court professionals read about the Drug Court sports team in an earlier story in the Hattiesburg American and decided to invited Judge Helfrich and Davenport to make a presentation at the national convention.