The heart of the AAU basketball season has hit full swing and EPIC has embraced the challenge! Play began with the newest age level, 2nd /3rd grade. This group of miniature players quickly became a fan favorite with their incredibly competitiveness and passion for the game. The season was highlighted by multiple buzzer beaters to tie and win the game. Lucas Crosby, Bryce Walker and Montay Washington led the drama in these very eventful games.
The older teams weren’t too shabby either. Every EPIC team finished the spring season with tournament wins. 9th grade had three second place finishes before ending the season with back to back tournament wins. 6th grade paced the field with three tournament titles against very strong competition, behind new EPIC head coach, Drew Simonini. Excitement didn’t just stop on the court. In May, the 7th-10th graders boarded buses and traveled to Baraboo, WI for an overnight camp. This team building trip was a blast for the players and coaches!
Team building activities, learning each other’s testimonies and late night camp fire, all factored into a tremendous experience, outside of the normality of the Northwest Illinois suburbs.Leadership and team development continued during practices, as players took turns leading their individual teams through scripture and discussion. These group breakdowns, focused on ways to apply biblical principles in the players’ basketball play and everyday lives.
Coach Jeron and the 7th grade team continued with the EPIC spirit of developing young men on and off of the court, with their service trip to Andersen’s Animal Shelter. The team volunteered and served their community by giving their time to help a great organization! There are plenty of other great activities and events in store during the summer session. Be on the lookout!
This spring, EPIC was fortunate enough to take another group of young men to an overnight camp in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Expeditions Unlimited is approximately two and half hours away from Elgin and the group of 7th-10th graders left at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning.
Pulling away for the weekend, the returning coaches may have been more excited than the players. Camp proved to be a huge success again this year. EPIC added new activities to the agenda at camp. The high school players participated in rock climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park, while the middle school players tried their hand at canoeing. There was an intense game of capture the flag after dinner. The boys then concluded the evening by sharing with each other things that they were thankful for while enjoying a campfire.
Sunday morning after a delicious breakfast, Coach Jeron shared his testimony with his EPIC family. After that, facilitators at the camp led the teams through a series of team building activities and courses. The EPIC players were given an opportunity to work together and problem solve. During these activities, great relationships were built and strengthened. Camp embodies everything that EPIC stands for and it’s sure to be an annual event that players and coaches look forward to every year.
14u AAU Nationals
The EPIC 8th grade team qualified for the AAU national tournament, by going 4-0 in the district regionals in Deerfield. They competed against teams like Full Package Elite and Illinois Blaze.
The national tournament was in Orlando Florida with 60 of the top teams in the country. EPIC played the best basketball of the season and really made a name for themselves, nationally. The tournament was highlighted by exceptional team play and personal bests from a number of players.
The first EPIC team to go to nationals, finished 4-3, including a 35 point victory. The team is poised to make a return and bring home some hardware!
Celebration Cook Out, September 12th @ Riverwoods from 4:30-6:30
Try-outs for 3rd-5th grade EPIC Winter Season @ Elgin Academy on November 8th from 6:00-7:30
1st Annual EPIC Fundraiser in January 2016
Coach's Corner - Drew Simonini
Who is your favorite basketball player? Kevin Garnett is my favorite player by far. I just love the passion that he has for the game. Plus, he isn't afraid to show it. His presence on any team automatically makes them tougher. As a result, the whole demeanor of the team changes for the good. The effort and competitiveness in practices intensify when he is in the gym. He is a prime example of a player who goes 100%, 100% of the time.
What do you do in your spare time? I recently just got a job at Palatine High School. I plan on getting involved with the basketball program there and possibly the football program. When I'm not there, I like to read books about coaching and math. I love playing basketball and working out as well. It is a huge priority of mine to stay active.
Why did you choose to coach with EPIC? I choose to coach with EPIC because I know this program focuses more on just basketball. Being able to get our players involved in volunteering and their faith is a blessing to be part of. I also see myself growing stronger in my faith and volunteering more mainly because of my involvement with EPIC.
What is something about you that most people don’t know? Most people don’t know that I am a High School Mathematics teacher.
Who is your role model? My mother is definitely one of my role models in my life. She is the strongest and most caring individual I know. Whenever I have to persevere through something, I think of her as that motivation to push me over that edge.
If you could say one thing to the players of EPIC what would it be? I would encourage and challenge all the players of EPIC to work hard and give 100% to everything you do. Work hard now so it becomes habit and everything you do will come with ease and success. No matter how simple the task, give maximum effort. Justin Anthony said it best, "100%, 100% of the time!"
What has been your best experience coaching? The best experience I have had coaching so far was winning my first tournament at Jacobs High School. In the championship game, we went on a huge run based on pure teamwork. The passing and energy that I saw from my team will be something I will never forget. After the game, all of my players had huge smiles on their faces. I remember asking the question to all of them if they were all having fun, and I got a huge "yeah!" Seeing the teamwork and enjoyment for the game was unforgettable.