BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Daytona Beach Housing Authority teamed up with Daytona Beach Leisure Services and put together a youth basketball team earlier this month.
The youth, ages 18 and under, competed in the Tampa Housing Authority’s basketball tournament in Tampa from June 8-10.
The team consisted of 10 players ages 14 to 18 from public housing units in Daytona; they played against other kids from public housing units in other cities across Florida.
The Daytona Beach Housing Authority sponsored the team while the city’s Leisure Services Department organized and operated it.
Travel, competition and challenge
The Daytona team went 2-2 overall and 2-1 in a pool play during the three-day event. They came out as the second seed from a Pool B after picking up wins over Palatka and Pinellas County.
The local team did suffer a defeat to West Palm Beach. Daytona lost to Lakeland in the following round, which eliminated them from competition.
“This was a great event. The kids got to travel, be on the road, stay in a nice hotel and play upscale basketball. They learned team camaraderie and got to both compete and befriend other kids who live in public housing in other cities,” said Coach Jerry Johnson.
“It was a great adventure for them. It also got them away from the area to see something else and have fun.’’
Just two weeks to prepare
Johnson is a Leisure Services Department employee who coached the team; he was assisted by longtime city employee Fred Morrell.
Putting the team together was a challenge for Johnson and Morrell.
“We only had two weeks to prepare. That’s a short time to get the kids together and get them competitive as a team. We did the best that we could,” commented Johnson.
The players say they had fun, enjoyed their experience and would like to participate in similar tournaments in the future.
“The experience was pretty good and I had a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity for us whose parents don’t have the time or money to take us traveling a lot. I think that this should be done again,” responded Raqwon Sloan, 15.
Wilton Whiter, 14 agreed, “It was a good experience. We had a lot of fun. As a basketball player, I got a chance to work on becoming a better defender during the tournament. I liked it and would love to play in it again.”
There have been such tournaments conducted by housing authorities.
“In the past, I played in a similar tournament, which was organized by the housing authority. I garnered MVP honors. We got to go to Las Vegas and Denver. That was fortunate for us,” recalled Johnson.
“Wes Chandler was our director and Morris Small was our coach. It’s good to have this for the kids. I hope that they continue this. This also allows kids to see something different that they haven’t seen before,” Johnson added.