BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Organizers of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 50th anniversary celebration in Volusia County are looking for people to sign up and play in their three-on-three basketball tournament.
The goal is to have a total of 48 teams in three divisions, including 17 and under boys, 18 and up older men, as well as open-age women’s teams. There will be cash prizes for first- and second-place teams in each division.
Cash prizes include $100 for the first-place teams, $50 for second place and $25 for third-place teams.
“We want to get young people involved in the festivities. You know us older folks know all about Dr. King and his legacy, but we want to make sure that the younger crowd come out and celebrate with us,” said Percy Williamson, City of Daytona Beach’s Leisure Services director. Williamson also s a member of the MLK celebration committee.
More teams needed
Right now, numbers are low for teams but organizers expect a big boost in participation over the next week.
“We want to make sure that we have teams from all over the county participate in this event. Right now, most of our teams are from Daytona, then we have a few from DeLand, but we want other cities to come and participate,’’
“The thing is we do have a lot of the best teenage players playing in high school, which makes them not available. We will take teams up until as close as the event as possible.’’
Terry “Baldy’’ Johnson, a current AAU coach and leader of his B.A.L.D.Y. Athletics Organization, has been tasked with putting the teams together.
Johnson is a longtime city employee as well as a former Seabreeze High and Stetson University standout, high school referee and coach.
“We just need teams for each division. We are taking them on a first-come basis. This is a historic event for MLK Day. We are trying to get community involvement on a countywide level. We want to do this every year,’’ he said.
After the march
This is the first year of the three-on-three basketball tournament in connection with the MLK observance.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination. In observance, cities in Volusia County have planned joint MLK events.
The basketball tournament will take place on Monday, Jan. 15, King’s actual birthday and the date of the official holiday observance. That day concludes festivities with a two and a half-mile march from Stetson University to Earl Brown Park at 120 S. Florida Ave., DeLand, beginning at 11 a.m.
The basketball tournament begins immediately after the march.
Williamson told the Times, “We have a full day of fun-filled festivities along with our breakfast and countywide march. It’s all about celebrating the legacy of Dr. King. In addition to all that is going on we have a friendly, good and competitive athletic activity.”
Also on the day of the MLK march and basketball tournament, there will be a dance competition between countywide dance teams.
The Dancing Lady Cats of Daytona Beach, under the instruction of Lavonne Lasiter, will participate.
To sign up for the 50th MLK Day Celebration three-on-three basketball tournament, contact the Daytona Beach Midtown Cultural & Educational Center at 386-671-5540.