Saturday, December 29, 2012

From The Director's Desk Feat: Ed Bright (Team IZOD/Sports U)

Team IZOD/Sports University has developed some of the top grammar school programs in the region. Their 6th Grade and 7th Grade squads are currently ranked #1 in the region while their 8th Graders seem to be coming along strong. We decided to reach out to Program Director Ed Bright to get some insight on their movement. 

From The Director’s Desk 

BS: What is the mission of Team IZOD/Sports U? 
EB:Mike sports, education and politics are the three most dominant and pervasive social forces that shape our society and influence the quality and character of American culture. At Team IZOD we realize that the love of sports is so deeply embedded in our national consciousness that the values of millions of people — participants and spectators — are directly and dramatically affected by the values conveyed in sports. This places a significant social responsibility on our mentors and coaches at Team IZOD who influence our basketball players to assure that athletic competition helps build character and ethics and gives each of our student athletes a clear understanding of what their social contract is to their families, schools and communities. 

BS: You guys have made a movement into the grammar school department, what prompt this move and how was it developed? 
EB:We started out seven years ago as a 15U D2 basketball club. At that time Mike we wanted to bring urban and suburban kids together through the game of basketball and show them that their struggles were the same and stress how sports could help build character. Because of that one team and some measure of success we grew into a 15U – 17U program. In 2010 we felt that our program offered several distinct and dynamic value propositions that the average AAU program didn’t and felt that if we could reach the elite athlete earlier in life we could coach life skills that these young men could carry with them throughout there academic years, careers in basketball and more importantly after the game of basketball was over in their lives. 

BS: What are some of the special programs you guys have designed for the young players? 
EB:It starts with our Professional Development Modules taught by Cheryl Walker Robertson President of Protocol International These modules which are mandatory for all our age groups deals with everything from how to greet someone, how to shakes hands, how to dress, what to out on facebook. Then we have a corporate agreement with IZOD where we do workshops on business and its required that our young men spend days at the company in corporate functions like sales, marketing, finance, project management and internal IZOD managers must sign off and approve their days work. We also do modules lead by Peter Harvey the Fmr. Attorney General in NJ on Leadership and Critical Thinking. We stress that your young men choose mentors in their lives and they learn how to be a good mentee. That’s aside for playing and teaching basketball at the highest level in America. Thanks in good part to Basketball Spotlight. 

BS: Who are some of the top players that have played in your program? 
EB: I should start with Eli Carter Rutgers, Quentin Decosey Temple, Derrick Williams Richmond, John Caprio Georgetown, Mario Moody Wagner, Lucky Jones Robert Morris, Patrick Cole Brinson Coppin State, and it continues with the class about to graduate in 2013 Josh Brown Temple, Hallice Cooke Oregon State, Spencer Weisz Princeton, and DeAndre Bembry St Joes. And players who have played with us at times are guys like Kyrie Irving now in the NBA. And we cant forget Gary Nova who is now the starting QB at Rutgers but was with IZOD for several great years. 

BS: What was your best moment as director of this program? 
EB: Mike, my claim to fame is that some of the best, dynamic and brightest people are part of Team IZOD. First it’s the partnership that IZOD has formed with us their belief that we can make a difference. Then the coaches and mentors in our program Brian Coleman, Darryl Dawkins, Joe Whalen, Reggie Carter, AD Gaffney, Ray Dover, Cas Wade, Lou Delgado, James Johns and Cicerone Chandler. My father always said if you’re the smartest guy in the group find another group. We have been blessed beyond measure to have what I believe a staff better than any in the country for a basketball leadership program. 

BS: What has been your worst moment as director of this program? 
EB: Mike, it’s a moment I will never forget. About 6 years ago a director of a program here in New Jersey approached me with one of his coaches or boys maybe I should say and literally wanted to fight because one of his kids said hello to me and his parents waved. I will never forget it because I realized at that time that many people aren’t in this for the right reasons. I remember how he said IZOD and Sports U was insignificant and there was no rivalry between us and his program. I have never forgotten that. I have always made sure that Team IZOD is a safe place. We don’t want any members of our staff that are looking to pimp a kid or catch a rising star. We want to teach our kids to know how to focus on what they want out of life. We want our young men to learn how to focus so they can decide early on what they want. If they don’t decide their focus someone else will decide it for them and we don’t want that. 

BS: Give me one word that best describes your program? 
EB: Mike, can I give you three. TRUST, FOCUS, EXCELLENCE. 

BS: What is your opinion of Basketball Spotlight events? 
EB: Mike, for Grammar school event there is no better platform than Basketball Spotlight. Your approach is comprehensive. You have created a forum for competition not just for the elite teams or players but even for the kids you just enjoy the game and want to compete and get better. Your events are professional and more importantly on time. Your website gives these young players a central point to see who is where and where the success is being had. You also care about these young men being more than just basketball players and you show that by creating a platform where they can speak and grow confidence in communicating.