Wednesday, October 9, 2013

GAIS Eagles: A "Unique" Program

The word "unique" describes something different from the norm.  The difference can be positive or negative.  A tweet from fellow Eagles coach Will Avery and our varsity boys players' plans to compete as a team in this weekend's South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association (SCBCA) Elite Camp caused me to think about the uniqueness of our Eagles basketball program.

Our varsity boys have played in over 100 games during the past twelve months.  In addition to a five month "regular season" which includes ten or more weekend trips to five states, we host and participate in "off season" leagues in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.  Virtually all local players and teams participate in our leagues, and the amount of quality basketball that our group plays is truly extraordinary.

And I haven't yet mentioned the involvement of Will Avery, our area's only alum who has experienced the highest level of basketball at each stage of the high school (state champion at Westside and eventual leading scorer and captain at Oak Hill Academy), college (leading Duke to the 1999 national championship game), and professional (Minnesota Timberwolves lottery pick) ranks.

But our players gain access these special opportunities the old fashioned way:  by "earning it."  Showing up on time to activities, purposefully pursuing excellence as a player, teammate, and person, and accepting the responsibility and accountability associated with being part of a special group are all  minimum requirements to be a part of this group.  And if players want to put the extra time required to be truly special on the court and in the classroom, like recently graduated college freshman Matt Miller has, then they have all of the resources needed.

US Merchant Marine Academy Freshman Matt Miller
In addition to the base level requirements of participation, our players actively contribute to the well being of their program.  These are some of the ways Eagles have helped to build the present and future of their program:

1)  Last April at Westminster Schools of Augusta, graduating seniors Matt Miller, Austin Crown, Paul Jones, and Dominic Brown voluntarily conducted the free "GAIS Mini Camp" for 60 boys and girls ages 7-18.

2)  During the recently ended Fall League, the 2013-2014 Eagles varsity players have consistently worked the clock and book; set up, cleaned up, and torn down the gym; recorded and edited for display on this site highlights of the action from the league's ~500 participants; and done any other job needed to make this free league possible for our basketball community.

3)  Former Eagles and current college students Kip Custer and Dominic Brown have voluntarily refereed and worked to make our leagues and activities possible.

And our players are not the only people who work extraordinarily hard to make these special opportunities available.  Because I want to make sure that everyone who makes the special efforts required will have a chance to participate on the court for a significant amount of time, Will and I have put together a full schedule for TWO varsity boys teams.  Multiplying the time, travel, and cost associated with our program and hosting leagues with nearly 50 local teams that aren't Eagles teams are examples of my attempts to "earn my keep" in this endeavor.

So it is consistent with the tradition of our program that our current players will not only play in Saturday's SCBCA Elite Camp, but they will work to make available live highlights and full game footage from the event to the followers of South Carolina high school hoops and the Augusta Basketball Report.  So if you see the same guys who are playing, and hopefully excelling, on the court during one game filming and publishing the action during other games, know that this is all part of the effort that we expend to be a part of something truly special.  And unique.

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