2001-08-04 / Sports

Courageous Victory For Local Coach, Team

By Elio Velez

Metro Team Next is a group of six young men under the age of 11 who recently won the American Athletic Union "Eleven and under" basketball championship in Cocoa Beach Florida.

Led by Far Rockaway Resident, Coach Michael Moore and Assistant Coach Julius Smalls, a band of six kids from Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens came together to win a tournament that featured 94 teams from across the country.

Simply to get into the tournament, Metro Team Next had to win championship tournaments in Pennsylvania and on Long Island. It was only after they won those tournaments that they were named the New York representative to the AAU National Tournament.

The team almost never made it to the tournament in the first place.

An article previously written in the wave by Gary Toms explained that Coach Moore had a very tough time in gathering sponsorship money to provide equipment, travel expenses and other much-needed things for his team. Most teams use those sponsorships to raise the money necessary for these youngsters to compete.

After the article was published, however, many individuals and organizations reached out to Moore to help in any way they could.

Coach Moore says, "I was fortunate and grateful to receive assistance from the Rockaway Community". One organization that reached out to help was Jesus Family Ministry headed by Bishop Ruben Mitchell.

" I was very grateful for their verbal, monetary and spiritual support. Mitchell and his congregation were very excited to assist us." Moore says that he received a significant contribution from the Faith Baptist Church located in West Hempstead. "I would like to thank him even though he had never laid eyes on me before." Moore thanked Virginia Matthews from the Solid Gold Traveling Agency. He also thanked other sponsors from The Rockaway Medical Rehabilitation Center, Century 21 and Empire Trucking LTD.

As Metro Team Next arrived at Cocoa Beach, the players, including Erving Walker, Vincent Rogers, Prentice Small, Cameron Sutton, Elliot Miller and Lance Stephenson, were very confident, even in this very tough tournament. Moore believed, just as his players did, that their confidence and ability would shine through.

"We believed from the outset that we could win this tournament. The kids exuded a lot of confidence and never had a feeling they was going to be defeated."

The Metro Team Next advanced through the tournament beating teams from Milwaukee, Houston and Detroit before facing the No Limit Ballers in the finals.

What was significant about No Limit, is that the team is coached by famed music star Master P and his son Romeo, is one of the ballplayers. Even though No Limit had bigger ballplayers, Team Next started the game out on top and never looked back.

"From the outset, we controlled the tempo and we were just trying to maintain the lead after the third quarter." Once the game was over and Metro beat No Limit 54-50 to capture the championship, the crowd of over 2000 people in the arena went on to the floor to congratulate the team.

Looking back, Coach Moore praises his team for their courage, confidence and perseverance that they brought to the tournament. Moore stated that it was a great opportunity for the kids to have fun and do their best. Moore also gave thanks to assistant coach Julius Smalls for helping him with so much in getting to this point. For Moore, the experience of winning still gives him a lot of happiness. " To me, it’s the best experience of my sports life ever. It’s still like a dream." Moore states that even though the contributions helped the team get to the tournament, there are other tournaments that Metro cannot attend due to lack of funding.

"Tournaments such as these give the kids the opportunity to do positive things not only for themselves, family and friends but also for the community at large" said Moore. Through donations and support, these kids and other future kids can achieve positive goals such as Metro Team Next did. Those interested in donating to the team may do so in care Team Next care of The Wave, Box T, P.O. Box 930097; Rockaway Beach, NY 11693

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