Two friends’ love for the game has grown into something much bigger.
by Tony Atkins / @ByTonyAtkins
In the Midwest, basketball is bigger than people think. Indiana has one of the strongest basketball histories in the land. Chicago, Michigan and Ohio have all established strong basketball traditions on either the high school, collegiate or professional level.
One area that usually falls under the radar in basketball talks involving the Midwest is the state of Wisconsin. Sure, there are Top-25 college programs in Marquette and UW-Madison, but Wisconsin seems to lack that tough basketball reputation that other cities and states have within the region.
But there are some rumblings going on within Milwaukee, WI. On February 18, Milwaukee based Mission10Eleven debuted its Lakeside Scholars club during its official team pep rally. A gym full of anxious fans came out to Siloah Lutheran School to support the team as it unveiled its first AAU team.
Boasting a well balanced roster with decent size down in the post and talented 1- and 2-guards to match, Lakeside will have plenty of options on the offensive and defensive ends. Guards like the 6-4 Charles Smith should provide solid play at point guard with deep shooting range and length on the defensive end.
Along with Smith, Dumaine Reid, Babatunde Fajembola, DeAngelo Webster and Travis Jordan round out a deep guard corp.
“We have the right pieces together and we are a group that will feed off of one another as we overcome obstacles and adversity throughout our season, we all bring something to the table,” said guard Webster during pre-game practice.
Rounding out the frontcourt are Alex Clarke, Paul Davis, Josh Lott, Bobby Komorowski and Ryan Hopgood at center. This group of bigs can stretch the floor and is solid from mid-range and beyond.
Beyond the team itself, there lies a greater story behind the creation of the team. In life, opportunities are presented to you in many different forms and fashions. Some, you can capitalize on while others slip through your fingers. Opportunities are more frequent for some, rare for others or, for some, refused entirely.
For many who aren’t afforded that opportunity, the dream ends there. In other cases, these people take it upon themselves to create their own opportunities and build a platform for themselves and the people around them.
That was just the case within Mission10Eleven, a non-profit youth organization that focuses on career building, harboring and mentoring young Milwaukeeans and young people in general as they embark on the journey of life. Ironically, it all began as friends Alex Clarke and Dumaine Reid met back in 2009 on a basketball court of all places and discovered chemistry as friends through the game of basketball itself.
Being serious basketball players, Clarke and Reid made it a goal to make a college basketball team in 2010 heading into 2011—rigorous training and hard practices would follow in the coming months. During that time, the two established a pact that would follow them for the rest of their lives. That was Mission10Eleven, named for the years that the goal was to be realized.
Over time, that dream didn’t come to fruition as both didn’t get onto a college club. But something much greater happened. Mission10Eleven became a movement in urban Milwaukee as online buzz generated via Twitter and Facebook. People began wearing hooded sweatshirts and tees with the organization’s logo on it. What began as a goal between two friends had become something much greater. Mission10Eleven became a movement in a crime-laced city that needed a positive beacon of light shining from within.
“It’s a blessing for everything to come to get together like it did. We put a lot of hard work into it, me and Maine,” Clarke said. “Especially Maine, he really is going with his dream and I’m right behind him every step of the way.”
Mission10Eleven has been more than a symbol within Milwaukee, though. The organization draws up a number of events for the young and old alike at local youth centers. Their highly competitive basketball tournaments serve as platforms for Milwaukee’s prep basketball talent and for colleges to come out and see potential prospects play against one another.
“It’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse but at the end of the day, we put in hard work to give back to our city and the city shows love back to Mission10Eleven. These last three years have been amazing. You look at Milwaukee a couple of years ago and now you notice that there is nothing for the kids to do anymore. We have to make a difference,” Reid said.
All of that brought Lakeside, a deep prep school team that will be hitting AAU in the coming months representing Mission10Eleven. Along with this team, Mission10Eleven has created a writing team and is working toward creating its own after school programs with ATG Academy, also under Mission10Eleven.
The Lakeside Scholars will take to the courts again in the All-Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Invitational from March 24-25. This event will is hosted by Mission10Eleven and will host any challengers that are willing to take on the Scholars in the tournament.
Two friends who met playing basketball may have created a beacon of hope for a city riddled with violence. All of this grew from dreams of making a college roster. While Clarke and Reid may not have gotten to that platform, they surely have created something much more meaningful that will last a much longer time.