July was the start EPIC's summer season. EPIC's 3rd-8th grade was in action, as high school was given the summer off for school summer league teams. The summer season was jam packed with exciting competitive basketball.
The Wisconsin Dells tournament has been a staple and family favorite for the summer season. Not only is there great competition, but it proves to be a great time for EPIC players and families to bond. Our teams also participated in a national tournament that hosted teams from many different regions, reaching as far as Canada. Many of the EPIC teams had excellent showings and turned many eyes with their solid play. However, the biggest win came when a mother from an opposing team wrote a letter to the EPIC directors, exclaiming how caring and friendly our players were even after a very intense and hard fought game against them. This mother also sent pictures of boys from both teams hanging out, in between games. The message from this impressed mother, is a testament to the amazing players that represent EPIC. Our boys’ behavior sets them apart from the crowd. This is what EPIC is really about and it creates opportunities to share the EPIC (Empowering People In Christ) difference!
In addition to being great examples of the EPIC mission, the 8th grade team became the first EPIC team to go to the AAU national tournament. In August, the team traveled to Orlando, Fl for a week to play against the top teams in the country. There were only 3 other teams from Illinois to make it to Wide World of Sports for the national tournament. EPIC has a number of talented teams and players that are sure to have many other teams qualify and place at nationals!
The season concluded with an end of season cookout at Riverwoods park in St. Charles. Besides each high school player consuming enough food to feed an entire family, the celebration was a ton of fun. Parents were able to reconnect one more time, to reflect upon the many shared experiences on and off the court. The boys rummaged the park, playing bags, football and, of course, basketball on the outdoor court. Many smiles and laughs were shared while reminiscing on the ups and downs of the epic, EPIC season!
UPCOMING EVENTS: Skills Clinic- Oct 25th and Nov 1
After the first few minutes of the first tryout in March, it was apparent that the 14U team had an immense amount of talent. EPIC even made two 8th grade teams to accommodate this very skilled group. Throughout the spring season, this team made their mark in every tournament. From 40+ point wins, to no look passes, to ankle breaking crossovers that left defenders sitting on the hardwood, it was evident that the 8th grade team's goal of qualifying for nationals was more than a hope.
It was clear at the national qualifying tournament, in Deerfield, IL, that the boys were hungry to make their mark. However, the 8th grade parents were even giddier at the possibility of getting away to Florida for a week. After playing four games against teams with superstar players, these 8th graders showed that a true team is greater than an individual, ending with a 4-0 record and qualifying for Division I AAU Nationals in Orlando.
On August 18th, the team flew to Florida. This was an experience in itself, as many of the boys had never been on a plane before. The families shared neighboring houses, allowing for daily team meals and pool parties.
The basketball games were exhilarating! There was a level of energy that the team had never seen before. The potential to play against “famous” players like EJ Jackson gave the boys extra motivation.
EPIC began the tournament with a big win against a team from Florida. The second day, EPIC played on the primetime court, which was NBA regulation size. They played against the Virginia Playmakers. This team was jam packed with incredibly talented guards and skilled big men. The Playmakers got out to a 20 point lead, but EPIC fought back to get within 2 points. Unfortunately, time ran out, but it was an extraordinary effort and display of heart. "That game was the best and most intense game that I have ever coached or played in!", said Coach Drew Simonini, who also coaches high school basketball and football. The EPIC 8th graders continued on to a 4-2 record, before being forced to forfeit the next game due to a flight conflict.
Lifelong memories were truly made on this trip. The team built an incredibly close relationship and considers themselves a band of brothers. The success from AAU Nationals is a testament of genuinely adopting the 2015 EPIC theme of “We over Me!"
Michael (9th grade) and Chris (7th grade) Hodges participated in a highly acclaimed exposure camp in September. The camp hosted some of the country’s top players. Both Michael and Chris played extremely well, drawing attention from many of the spectators. Michael demonstrated his much improved defense, with solid on ball defense and great help positioning. Chris, who plays up a grade level for EPIC, dominated offensively against his age group. Chris’ performance earned him a spot in the top 20 All-Star game with the likes of nationally ranked players,Cameron Byers, Zion Harmon and Trey Patterson. The Hodges brothers attend Schaumburg schools.