Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Determined not to let renovations of their “home court” at Howard Gymnasium slow them down, Team D.E.F.F. basketball teams have been practicing at Beck Recreation Center and hosting tournaments throughout Georgetown County this summer.
Taking their organization’s motto to heart, Determined, Educational, Fundamental, and Fun, the coaches and players of Team D.E.F.F. have been relentless and creative in securing sites for their summer tournaments. “The Beck facility has been scheduled for other events on Saturdays,” Coach Brandon Brown said. “We’ve had to go through a lot to secure these other facilities for the kids.”
On July 12, the team hosted a six-team tournament at the Georgetown Middle School Gymnasium.
“Close it up … Don’t turn your back …Get set…” Those were the courtside sounds inside the gymnasium, but the sights and sounds of a regular team practice go far beyond the game of basketball. Thirteen-year-old Naseem Ahmad wishes that everyone could understand what being a part of Team D.E.F.F. really means.
“When people see us play basketball, they have no idea how much these coaches have given to us,” he said.
Referring to the life lessons and the mentoring he receives from his coaches, Ahmad added, “For some of the kids, this is the only family connection that they have.”
Fourteen-year-old Tyreak Kinloch echoes the appreciation that Ahmad has for their coaches and is looking forward to the day that he and his teammates are once again playing on the court at Howard.
“Our coaches have made sure that just because we don’t have a gym, that doesn’t mean our program is going to fail,” he said. Tremel Chandler agreed, saying, “I want to play in the NBA ... My coaches are making sure that I keep my grades up and play the best basketball that I can.”
Taking a breather after refereeing a close game between Hemmingway and Moncks Corner, volunteer Kenneth Funnye commented, “This is wonderful isn’t it? Seeing all these kids out here enjoying themselves and learning how to get along and play together.”
The players have definitely been listening when it comes to the teamwork portion of the program.
“If we are not in sync, we are going to mess up, and then we will not play well,” said 13-year-old Jadis Heyward. “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
The players, each citing their own examples, explained that being part of Team D.E.F.F. enables them to learn how to solve problems in their personal lives as well as on the court.
Watching their teammates from the bleachers, and cheering them on, the girls of Team D.E.F.F. are anxious to have their time on the court as well.
“It wasn’t just the boys that were sad when Howard closed. We felt like our place was taken from us too,” said Jakayla Cox.
“I can’t wait till we are back in Howard. That is like our home, and we are a family, and that is where we need to be.”
Another teammate said she is happy the basketball program was able to continue, because she looks to the coaches as mentors, and believes they steer her in the right direction during practice and life in general.
The girls’ team is anxiously awaiting their next tournament, which will be held in Andrews on July 26.
Team D.E.F.F. played their hearts out, but at the end of the day on July 12, the Choppee Bears took home the trophy for the 12 and under age divisions and the Columbia Pittbulls snagged the trophy for the 15 and under age division.
Team D.E.F.F. didn’t walk away with a trophy on Saturday, but they walked away holding their heads up high. “We are a team,” said Daquan Campbell. “We score as a team, we win as a team, and we lose as a team. It’s just that simple.”
Team members are hoping to be back on their home court at the Howard Gymnasium this fall, when renovations are scheduled to be completed.