"Through the Storm"
When Bryce Washington and his family
evacuated New Orleans last August, they thought they were leaving for a weekend. But when Katrina hit and their home was destroyed, they suddenly found themselves living in Atlanta. “Everything
is fine and then 8 feet of water come in and change your life,” said Bryce’s mother Troy and father Brent. But the Washington’s not only found a new home, they found a second family. Georgia Fastbreak is a basketball program about much more than sports.
Fastbreak provides a supportive family-oriented environment where young boys can learn life lessons through basketball.
“My son came home and said he had a friend at school from New Orleans who played basketball and asked if he could be on the team.” says head
coach Anthony Phillips. “It didn’t matter what his skill level was. I
knew that the kids from New Orleans needed to be embraced
by our community and we welcomed him with open arms”.
Every week Bryce would show us something new he could do. The closer he got with the kids on the team, the more he opened up personally and on the court. He ended up leading our team to a National Championship and maintaining honor roll status at school. A number of our players are dealing with tough situations. Many are in single mother households and things aren’t always easy.
Often times our team becomes a strong support system helping them raise the boys.
We often provide child care, mentoring, tutoring and even financial support.
Coach Phillips raised over $14,000 to pay for everything from uniforms, court
time, tournaments and travel. Fastbreak is a 501-c3 non-profit organization and
receives money from individuals and corporations. A small Atlanta based marketing agency, Trend Influence, was the team’s biggest sponsor. Phillips adds, “I think it’s important for businesses to know that they
are making a difference when they support grass roots programs like Georgia Fastbreak.
You never know what kind of trauma the children from New Orleans,
or even children right here in Atlanta, are going through. An experience like the one Fastbreak provides could make the difference.”
In addition to another run at the National Championship, next year their goal
is to raise money for an international experience in South America or Europe to prepare the
boys for success in a global environment. They will also raise money for scholarships
to college prep schools for players that are accepted. “Our primary goal
is to get these kids a scholarship to college,” says coach Phillips.
The team won a number of tournaments this year, but the National Tournament
is on a much higher level. “It’s our first year together and we get
better every time we step on the court,” says assistant coach Fred Johnson. The Youth Basketball of America Association
holds its annual National Tournament in Orlando, Florida. This year Fastbreak was undefeated, beating teams from Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, South Carolina,
North Carolina, Alabama
and finally defeating the Future Players from Maryland in
the Championship game on Saturday July 29th. Bryce Washington was
named MVP of the National Championship Tournament. What a blessing… from
hurricane Katrina evacuee to National MVP. Bryce also received honors for a YBOA Achievement Award because of his excellent
academic standing and strong character.
In addition, two Fastbreak players
were named to the National Championship All-Tournament Team, Keyshaun Butts and Stephon Jelks.
AJ Farrar received the Hustle Award. Both
Braelen Phillips and Stephon Jelks were mentioned as All Academic players and Hunter Ware won the National Free Throw Shooting