GPRD teams headed to Nation's Capital
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 19, 2009 1:46 PM
A "friendly return game" has turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all-star basketball teams from the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Department.
Even Jeff Winbush, the GPRD athletics supervisor, is a little giddy.
One year ago, two all-star teams from the nation's capital ventured to Goldsboro to play the GPRD all-stars. The players, coaches and parents were so impressed with how Winbush ran his program, they offered an invitation to visit Washington this spring.
Winbush quickly agreed.
But he never counted on this.
Winbush thought the team would travel down Pennsylvania Avenue and view the White House from their plush seats on a charter bus. He never imagined he'd walk on the same carpet as our forefathers, view the Oval Office or glance into rooms where world dignitaries make decisions or elegant parties take place.
One email changed the travel plans.
"I contacted a fraternity brother, who gave me some information," said Winbush. "He said they would be glad to have us come and tour the White House. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for these kids because they've probably just seen it on TV.
"They're very excited. You could see their eyes light up when they asked questions in our meeting the other night."
The 200-person caravan, which includes family, will depart Goldsboro on Friday morning for D.C. They'll tour the White House in the early afternoon and then either spend time sight-seeing, or relaxing for an even bigger day on Saturday.
The Mites All-Stars (6-8-years old) and Midget All-Stars (9-11-years old) will take the court for one-hour contests against the D.C. All-Stars at the Hillcrest Recreation Center. The first game tips off at 11 a.m.
Veteran George Gills, who has won numerous regular-season and tournament league titles, and Sam Pearsall coach the Mites. Kevin Alston and Keith Faison share coaching duties for the Midgets squad.
Winbush said a combined 14 teams competed in the two divisions this winter. Fourteen players were chosen to represent each All-Star team.
"These are great, well-mannered kids who enjoy competition and learning the fundamentals of basketball," said Winbush. "We love these kids and what our program stands for. We wanted to do something for them and that's why this is a great trip.
"They get to experience something other than what is here in Goldsboro."
Winbush said the coaches funded the trip out of their own pocket. The parents were not asked to help finance the trip, which includes an overnight stay and bus-charter fee.
The D.C. Parks and Rec plans to feed the players.
"When the folks from D.C. came here last year, they were excited to see how we ran our program," said Winbush. "That says we are doing something right with this program. We have strong family support and I know we'll bring a big crowd.
"The parents are really excited about this, too."
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