Summer was a fast paced, condensed travel season, which was kicked off in July for the EPIC squads. After just two weeks of practice, the teams began tournament play. Playing four straight weekends, the EPIC teams competed against solid competition and played very well!
The season was highlighted by a fun-filled weekend in Wisconsin Dells, for the 2nd tourney and the National Summer Classic, a 6+ game tournament to end the season. Many families made a mini vacation out of the trip to the Dells. This was a great time for the boys, parents and siblings to let loose and have some fun as a team. The games were also intense and EPIC had an especially strong showing by both 12U teams, led by Coach George and Coach Billy.
The National Summer Classic was a huge tournament with 10+ locations. Teams from multiple states and even a group from Canada participated in the contest. With stiff competition, the EPIC teams showed major progress and played very well. Coach Lucas' 13U team had an extraordinary performance, earning much respect from their peers. This group of hard working young men showed the most improvement from the start of spring to the end of summer. The team finished 3rd overall in the national tournament, after taking the UBAA (Canada) to double overtime and losing on a desperation 3 pointer, that went in at the buzzer. EPIC doesn’t typically do moral victories, but this was certainly a performance, with which to be proud!
Over the last month, EPIC has focused on helping players to work ON their game instead of working IN the game. Through training camp on Sunday evenings, high school players go through an hour of skill training, afterwards getting 30 minutes for open gym.
Giving Tuesday November 29
Presidents' Day Camp Febraury 20
Feb 24 & 26
Quality instruction and a genuine desire for youth development, has led to much growth and success for EPIC. The 2016 spring season brought more than 300 players to tryout. However, we were only able to keep roughly 90 players, due to a lack of capacity. There was much excitement about the turnout, but sadness to turn awayso many from a great opportunity with EPIC.
Going forward, EPIC plans to run multiple teams at each age group. Players develop at different rates and we want to make the EPIC opportunity available through that process. Each team will be put in one of 2 tiers, based on their competition level.
Also, EPIC will launch an elite division in spring of 2017. The elite teams will participate in all exposure events, which will require more extensive travel. Look out for more information on the EPIC elite division in the next newsletter.
“Giving is not just about making a donation.
It is about making a difference. ”
President of the United Nations Foundation
EPIC is not just about basketball, but making a difference. Every dollar that's donated to EPIC will be used to support our mission, which is challenging youth to push their limits in their faith, academics and athletics!
Jasmine Willett. Smart, ambitious, beautiful are all great descriptors of the talented daughter and sister of the Cole family. However, faithful is the perfect adjective to describe Jasmine's spirit. One shows true faith when life becomes most difficult. During a courageous fight with cancer, Jasmine showed extraordinary faith. When her doctor gave her the news that she had only days to live, Jasmine responded eloquently, "Thanks doctor. I know this is your job, but all of my faith is in God!"
In high school, Jasmine starred on the Lincoln Park High School basketball team. After college, Jasmine organized many youth basketball programs in Chicago, including events for Bobby Simmons and the Dwyane Wade Sports Academy. Yet she enjoyed basketball most when watching her brothers, Keenon (15) and Lamont (16), play. Jasmine loved EPIC and was a huge advocate. She worked hard to spread the word, campaigned for a sponsorship and organized the inaugural reception fundraiser for EPIC. She was truly a blessing to the program!
Dedication Dedication was certainly prevalent in all parts of Jasmine's life. She was dedicated to her commitment to Christ. Dedicated to loving her family. And dedicated to her work. Jasmine had a great job with a thriving start up healthcare company in Chicago. However, she recently launched the Willett Group, which was her very own public relations firm. When asked if she ever has to work weekends, Jasmine responded, "No it's 24/7. It's all 24/7." When she decided to do something, Jasmine was dedicated to being successful!
Jasmine Willett was a remarkable young lady. Her charisma and character were apparent in all that she did. In August, Jasmine lost her battle with cancer, but she certainly won at life! Jasmine was faith, basketball, dedication. Jasmine was EPIC!
"When I share personal things with you all about my cancer diagnosis, it's not for sympathy or GoFundMe. Fortunately, through the grace of God and a great support system... When I share it with you it's to show you that God can come in and twist and turn any situation. Each day that I am gifted with, I am actually indeed a survivor"
As a part of EPIC's weekly practices, each team takes time off the court to have a group discussion about a specific topic. The topics are aligned with Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which include building trust, navigating conflict, obtaining commitment, accountability and getting results. To kick-off our leadership development sessions this year, the players were asked to describe what makes a player great.
What does it mean to be a great basketball player?
"I know someone is great when they're not only great at basketball, being a good role model to your teammates"- 8th grader
"Being able to come in clutch at the end of a game"- 8th grader
"A great leader. Never gives up and gets buckets"- 7th grader"
"They can be really good at basketball but still not defined as great player because you aren't great off the court"- 7th grader
"...if they pick each other up and encourage them"- 6th grader
"To be a great basketball player you first need to be a leader on the court and in the locker room. Then you have to put in the effort to be a good player. Then you take control of the team on the court and win the fame as a team" - 6th grader