Event to boost young athletes

Published 9:18 pm Saturday, June 16, 2012

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

Former NBA player and Suffolk native Michael Britt is rallying the city of Suffolk to help give its youth a golden opportunity at a basketball event called “Communities Coming Together” on June 30, at Nansemond River High School.

The goal is to provide a stage in front of college scouts for Suffolk young people who either graduated from high school and never received a scholarship or who are still in high school and were ineligible to participate in a summer league.

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Britt has summoned college and international players as well as high school teams from Delaware and Washington, D.C., to come and play against Suffolk’s young basketball players, and he has also invited college coaches to come down and enjoy the show.

The event is completely free for participants, including food and beverages.

More than anything, Britt has a strong desire to help Suffolk’s youth through this event.

“I was like, ‘Well, how will I do this? I really don’t have the funds,’” he said, “But I believe (if) we all came together for one cause, one purpose, and one goal — that’s to help a kid get a scholarship to go to school — we could have something here.”

Britt also sees this event as a platform for his hometown. The out-of-town teams will be representing their communities on the road and getting to share the stage in front of the scouts, and Britt expects to see Suffolk proudly represented through its local athletes.

“We all are representing Suffolk,” he said. “I’d like for it to be something where it’s like something that never took place before in the city of Suffolk.”

Britt’s non-profit organization Britt-Quinn Enterprise will be putting on the event and is relying upon ongoing sponsorship and donations to make it happen.

“I began to contact different businesses in the city to help with sponsorship, the city councilmen as well, to help out,” Britt said.

One local company, Mike Duman Auto Sales, has already partnered with Britt-Quinn Enterprise to help out. More contributions from sponsors and donors are still needed, and Britt is hoping for city cooperation as well.

“Britt-Quinn Enterprise is about the youth,” he said. “It was established in Washington, D.C., when I was there. I’m just bringing some of the things that we did when I was in Washington, D.C., here because those kids in the bigger cities, why are they so good of a ball player when they get to the next level? How are they getting into school? Why aren’t our kids locally getting into the same kind of schools that those kids are getting into?”

From his experience in D.C., the answer became obvious to Britt.

“Well, they work hard during the offseason,” he said. “They get an opportunity to take these guys, not just locally, during the offseason, but they afford them an opportunity to play against guys from other states.”

Britt’s goals, though, extend beyond simply helping kids reach the next level in hoops.

“We not only just want to help them on their basketball competitiveness,” he explained, “but we want to also assist them with getting mentorship out of this situation.”

Eventually, he would like to be able to open up an office based in Suffolk that, among other services, would assist students with tutoring to help improve their academic performance.

Britt had a history with drugs that landed him in prison for nearly 18 years of his life. He is now dedicated to helping kids make the right decisions in life, and he believes events like this one can help with that.

“Take them off the street, give them something to do during the summer,” he said. “This way, we can avoid criminal activities, the things that kids get caught up in with peer pressure.”

On June 30, four full-court basketball games will be played. The age breakdowns are 15 and under, 16-18, 19 and over, and 50 and over.

A Delaware school will face ninth- and 10th-graders, while a Washington D.C. school will face junior and senior age players. The 19 and up age bracket will see competition from college and international players, and Britt himself will make an appearance with fellow ex-NBA and overseas players in the 50 and up game.

He ultimately hopes to propel Suffolk’s youth to success through the unified efforts of his hometown community.

“This is Surprising Suffolk, right?” he said. “So, why can’t we grow together as a community, to show people that we have a tight-knit community, man, that kids can play together?”

And, hopefully, be afforded a special opportunity to reach the next level in life.