Over the last 14 years, our program has been hard at work trying to build a top-level program. This past week our program was put to the test at the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational, which is thought by many to be the top high school girls basketball tournament in the country.
Six of the top 10 teams in the nation were in this tournament, along with many state-ranked teams! We are not at the level of top 10 in the country (yet!), but it was amazing for our girls to get the chance to see these teams in action.
We wanted to take a moment to thank our community for their amazing support! Without the Warren community, none of this would be possible. We have had so many local businesses support us through the years with donations and we have received lots of donations through individuals during our tag days. We cannot thank you enough!
A special thank you to our administration (Jeff Flickner, WAHS principal, and Jeff White, WAHS athletic director) for their support to help us to get to Tampa. Also, a big thank you to WCSD Superintendent Amy Stewart and the school board for approving this trip and giving us this opportunity.
Our bracket had eight teams in it from across the country and was one of the top brackets in the tournament. Each bracket is carefully created based on the size of the schools, the ‘college’ and ‘potential college’ talent on the team and overall program success. It was an honor to be at this tournament and when the opportunity came up it was a no-brainer to try and get down there!
All the money for the trip was 100 percent fundraised through numerous efforts. In order to cut costs and save money, we flew into Atlanta (saved over $250 per ticket by doing this instead of flying into Tampa). We needed a big van no matter what to transport us around in Tampa, so we chose to drive the 6.5 hours from Atlanta to Tampa and then back again at the end of our trip. Our travel days were pretty long and hectic.
On Monday, Dec. 27 we decided to challenge ourselves and play a skilled Buffalo Sacred Heart Academy team. We played our game at JCC at 7:30 p.m. We got home around 9:30 p.m.
The next day we got on the road to the Pittsburgh airport at 6 a.m. We arrived at our house in Tampa at 10:00 p.m. It was a long day, but the girls knew this was a business trip. They came ready to go! After a good scout/film session the girls were in bed by 11 p.m. and ready for their first game in the morning.
My assistant, Jenny Phillips, and I were amazed at the level the girls played at each game. It was eye-opening to us to see what this team was capable of. They faced many adversities and worked together as a team to pull it all together! We were in three very close games against great competition. This trip was about playing the best and bonding together as a team. Mission accomplished!
When the crew was not hooping they were enjoying each other’s company. We enjoyed our Airbnb that had six bedrooms and slept 14 people… it was gorgeous. We made meals together as a team and of course, had a cook-off (everything is a competition with this team).
We had an amazing beach day at Clearwater and got to see lots of Penn State football players. We celebrated Alana Stuart’s 15th birthday and rang in the new year with a dance party, sparklers and sparkling grape juice! Most importantly we made memories that will last a lifetime!
As we continue to build our championship program we hope our amazing family, friends, community and school will continue to support us. We hope to see you at some upcoming games!! We went to Florida to not only compete, but to make the Warren Community proud. I think we did just that!
Warren Girls’ Basketball Head Coach