Tigers Enjoy International Basketball Tourney in Slidell, La.

The Southern Youth Sports Association took 12 boys to compete in their first Biddy Basketball International Tournament in Slidell, La., March 24-28, 2017.

It was an enriching and learning experience because of the various cultures and the respect that each of the 32 teams showed on and off the court.

With the assistance of SYSA’s Lumon May, the boys were able to exchange gifts with the other teams. The Tigers presented a unique Pensacola gift on the first day of the tournament. Opening ceremonies took place on Friday night where all 32 teams were introduced, including ones from Finland, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.


We want to thank Mr. Firmin Simms, president of Biddy Basketball, and his family for the special invitation. The mission of the program is one of the same as SYSA by providing the best tool in developing leaders in the sports of basketball while helping them to gain knowledge, skills, and competencies in basketball that translate to learning the importance of teamwork and other social skills to be successful in life. SYSA’s mission is to respond to the academic, social and physical needs of each youth through the involvement of the community, students and staff. SYSA is committed to the development of the full potential of each of the more than 1,000 youth in its programs.

The players and their school that represented the Pensacola community were as follows: Deontrez McLamb (Bellview); Jonah Carter and Damon Peoples (Brown Barge); Lumon May Jr. (Jubilee Academy); Randall Bumo (Ransom); Michael Rowell (SL Jones); Dacorney Shine (Warrington); Ozell Purifoy (Woodham); and Bryant Fields Jr., Cortez Hayes, Jaleel Houston and De’Adriaen Montgomery (Workman).


The trip was made possible thanks to the support from parents, students, and sponsors: Tammie May, Gail Carter, Damon and Monica Peoples, Cody and Cindy Chandlers, Joyce Hopson, Amoni May (West Florida), Javier Smith (Escambia), Jim and Shirley Cronley, Troy Rafferty, Robert Hill, Monica Palmer, Kevin Mair and Eladies Sampson.

After competing in the basketball tournament, the SYSA basketball players wrote about “What This Trip Meant To You.” Some of the things they said they learned were:

  • Doing their homework assignments on the desktop, laptop or chrome book.
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing integers with positive and negative signs.
  • Thanking the teachers for sending their assignments and letting them work, while their classmates were working on the same assignments.
  • Teamwork, playing hard and having fun.
  • Respect.
  • Making them better players, and learning to be responsible for their personal belongings.
  • Leadership, which is a concept that SYSA program pushes everyday on and off the court.
  • Bible, Books, Ball and Balance, which are the cornerstone of the SYSA programs.
  • Learning correct table etiquette in some of the top restaurants, and becoming a better swimmer.
  • The experience was the first time away from home for many of the players, and they learned when you share a room you have to take turns showering.
  • Listening to a different language, Finnish, on and off the court.
  • Seeing how much the SYSA coaches, parents and the community care for the players by buying new uniforms, traveling bags, socks, sponsoring a van for transportation and broadcasting the games on the radio.
  • Last but not least, networking and lifetime friendships. In the end, their favorite college and NBA players who they shared were many of the same, such as James, Curry, Markkarien, Koponen, Durant, Garnett, Westbrook, Paul, Davis and George, etc.).

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The SYSA teaches our young boys and girls that “success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation.” We all know that Knowledge is Power!

One of the gifts exchanged at the Biddy tournament was a towel that said, “Keep Moving.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t have said it any better, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

by Dr. Joyce Hopson, SYSA academic program coordinator

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