Team Evolve looks for another title
Published 8:38 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012
By Titus Mohler
A group of Suffolk girls that won a national championship in AAU basketball last year is set to make another run at the title this year.
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Team Evolve’s fifth-grade division took the honors in Division II at the Boo Williams Sportsplex last year. Now, with the same group of girls competing in the sixth-grade division, the team is competing for the Division I crown.
The girls have been nothing less than dominant this season and they have achieved this with a roster of surprising age diversity.
“Really our team is comprised of sixth graders, fifth graders, and one fourth grader,” head coach Kevin Davis said. “We have been playing seventh- and eighth-grade tournaments for the last two, three weeks, just to get ready and prepare for nationals. We didn’t lose one game in our age division this year.”
“This year, we’re not doing Division II, we’re actually doing Division I, so it will be tougher competition,” Davis said. “And, of course, we’re far away from home, we’re playing in Tennessee. That’s the first time a lot of those girls (have) been away.”
To get an automatic bid to nationals, AAU teams must participate in two specific regional tournaments, one mega-tournament that attracts more than just regional opponents, and the state tourney, and they must be one of the top four teams from each of these events.
“So we competed in all of those tournaments and we won all of those tournaments,” Davis said.
Davis said the drive and friendship among the girls, combined with some positive pressure from him, have made the team successful.
“I would say intensity and just will and passion,” he said. “We just have a consistent program, and those girls are able to continue to grow and develop and plus, they just like playing with one another, and they just get along well. And, of course, you need me — being the Marine I am, I do try to push them.”
But Davis put nearly equal emphasis on another factor.
“Plus, more than anything, we have parental support,” he said. “I started this team three years ago, and I have these same exact girls that I started with. In AAU basketball, that’s really difficult to do.”
Davis and the Team Evolve program want the girls to excel at the game of basketball, but their highest hopes are that the girls will embrace certain concepts that will aid them throughout their lives both as Americans and as individuals.
“For them just to learn those skills of hard work, work ethic, and all (of them) being able to understand that life is not easy, (that) you have to fight for everything that you work for, that you want, nothing is given, and it’s for them to be successful in those endeavors — that’s the most important thing I would want for them,” he said. “Whether they play collegiate basketball, whether they do anything else, if they get those skills, then I’m a happy camper.”
But even success has its problems. Davis said he has sensed overconfidence within the team, and he’s working to combat it.
“What I have been talking on the court with them (about) is to focus, don’t forget the things — those tangible and intangible items — that got you to the point where you are today,” he said.
The sixth grade Team Evolve girls will put their work ethic to the test at the national championships on Monday in Franklin, Tenn.