It was just four years ago when the Statesboro Force Youth Basketball team started. The organization believed in mentoring kids in the Bulloch County community and started with just two teams.
Recently, the Statesboro Force had the chance to prove themselves on the basketball court in the Force’s home state during the United States Basketball Association Championship held in Atlanta.
The organization walked away with two national titles. The ninth grade team defeated the Carolina Stars 59-46 to claim the USBA Classic Tournament title while the 10th grade team defeated the Upstate Warriors in the championship to win the USBA American Tournament title.
Statesboro Force organizer and facilitator Vernon Little said the wins on the court were positive for the program, but it’s what the Force does off the court that truly matters.
“We teach our kids to give back to the community. We’re trying to raise young, successful men,” Little said. “We want to build these young boys up and keep it positive. Basketball is just a tool that we use to help teach positivity.”
The Force had a hectic season with over 70 young boys trying out for the program. The organization played in eight tournaments over the season, equaling about 30 games, according to Little.
Since the Statesboro Force’s humble beginnings, the organization now has teams ranging from grades fifth to 10th.
Little said the coaches of the Statesboro Force are very involved in the life of their players.
“These coaches and parents care so much about the Statesboro Force. We keep it positive by having a lot of role models and other parents step up and become father figures to these young men,” Little said.
The coaches’ involvement doesn’t end on the court. Little said his coaches monitor their players’ grades and progress reports from school. If their grades don’t meet the cut, the player doesn’t suit up for game time.
This year’s 10th grade team were one of the first teams to join the Force. Little said their success on and off the court proves the organization is committed to the betterment of its players.
“These 10th graders are a very positive group and we have a lot of fun throughout the season. Without the players and coaches, this program wouldn’t be successful,” Little said. “Now we’re at a point where we have to cut back and not take as many kids. The coaches and players have made a commitment and they stick with us year in and year out.”
Little said he plans to have a banquet for the players to celebrate their success.
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.