"It's All About The Game"
DC Thunder is on the map
Ron Bailey, Publisher
September 23, 2014 - This past travel team season, DC Thunder, as its name suggests, was certainly heard from. Over April thru July, its flagship 16u team not only played in the Adidas Gauntlet Series (the organization is sponsored by that apparel manufacturer) - traveling to multiple cities in the process - but competed in a local event and two tourneys sponsored by the Hoop Group. As the season bore on, successes kept piling up, including three tournaments being won and the championship game of another reached.
Not bad for an organization, in its first year of elite travel team operation!
Zach Suber, coaching up his guys.
"I thought it went very well" said Zach Suber, Thunder's past 16u coach and a major figure in the outfit, one that last year also included a 15u crew and 12u group. "The first time under the DC Thunder umbrella. And you know with a few new players; we lost four to DC Premier and gained three. I thought it went well".
Suber and most of his 16u crew were former members of DC Premier (previously DC Assault). He, the players, assistant coach Aaron Ratliff and others including former DC Assault, Temple and professional standout Dave Hawkins, joined the Adidas Gauntlet series with anticipation and ultimately success.
"We would win two, lose one" recalled Suber of their early success at tournaments in Dallas and Indianapolis. Things improved as the season bore on; Thunder 16u won the Gauntlet's Orlando leg, and reached the league's final game in its end-of-season, Las Vegas based, Super 64 finale.
From a local and equally as important perspective, Thunder 16u took
on two DMV area rivals, Team Takeover and DC Blue Devils, defeating them
both in DMV Elite's top flight Super Team Showcase. Local bonafides were
Add a pair of Pennsylvania-sited, Hoop Group, open period outings - Summer Classic East and Summer Jam Fest - to the organization's spring/summer schedule. For the record, Thunder 16u won both.
That's a lot of wins, a lot of travel. Which also equates to a lot of cost.
"We were a sponsored team. It kind of worked out" shared Suber of the costs associated with his team traveling and competing. "It wasn't where parents had to come out of their pockets for anything big. Just food money, the usual stuff".
Mike Brown, DC Thunder's General Manager expounded upon how this was achieved.
"Actually I have a history with this stuff", recounted Brown after a pre-July open period practice. "Back in '95 along with Curtis Malone and Troy Weaver (VP/Assistant GM of NBA's OK City Thunder), I was kind of the behind the scenes guy with them, helping them get sponsorship with Adidas (for DC Assault)".
Continuing, he shared "fast forwarding things up real quick, Troy Weaver and I went to high school...Troy has a son, 12 (years old), like I do, both of them are in the sixth grade. Last year in the fifth grade we started DC Thunder for our kids.
"And then what happened, when Zach didn't want to move forward with DC Premier, he contacted Troy and myself and asked us would we be interested in picking up his team and a 15 and under team. Troy and I talked about it, I made a few calls, and Adidas was interested in getting back in the area. It just came together".
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