By Joel Hall
Truett's Grill in Morrow, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department have teamed up to launch the first co-ed Truett's Grill Classic Youth Basketball Tournament.
The tournament will consist of teams of three players, with one alternate, in the age groups of 12 and under, 10 and under, 8 and under, and 6 and under.
A total of 32 teams will compete for the chance to win free Chick-fil-A meals for a year. The tournament will take place on April 18 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church's Activity and Recreation Center, located at 7102 Mt. Zion Blvd., Jonesboro.
Team entries will be accepted until all 32 slots are full. The registration fee is $60 per team. All of the proceeds from the tournament will go toward helping students in the church's Youth Ministry participate in summer programs.
Randy Burgess, general manager of Truett's Grill in Morrow, said this is the first time the restaurant has hosted a sports tournament of any kind.
A lover of basketball, Burgess said the tournament was a way to combine his passion for sports, and desire to give back to the community.
"I played basketball at Lovejoy High School ... I play in church leagues now," Burgess said. "Mt. Zion Baptist has a great facility over there. We thought that [the tournament] would be a great thing for the community."
Games will take place on four different courts starting at 9 a.m., with the championship games taking place around 4:15 p.m.
The winning team members, of each age bracket, will get a trophy and 52 Chick-fil-A coupons which can be used throughout the year. Each participant in the tournament will receive a prize bag with a Chick-fil-A T-shirt and a Truett's Grill water bottle.
During the tournament, there will be a lay-up and free throw skills contest which players can enter for a chance to win other prizes.
The cost for each skills competition is $5.
Sponsors for the event include the Delta Community Credit Union, Amerigroup, Gezzo's Surf & Grille, the Morrow Business and Tourism Association, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the Clayton County Parks and Recreation department, and dentist John E. Chaney.
Chris Reynolds, senior pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Mt. Zion Christian Academy, said elementary and high school pupils in the church's student ministry will volunteer during the tournament. He said based on the number of hours students volunteer, they will be able to earn money to participate in the church's summer program, including the church's summer camp trip to Student Life Camp in Florida.
"They'll be involved in morning and evening Bible study, there will be concerts, group activities, and free time, which obviously in Daytona is the beach," said Reynolds. "The cost of the camp is about $300 per student. Based on the hours they work, they will hopefully be able to earn a little or a lot.
"I'm very grateful for the community and corporate support of this event," he continued. "They are investing in the kids, which I believe are the strength of this community."
Wesley Goggins, athletic coordinator with the Clayton County Parks and Recreation department, will be organizing the brackets for the tournament. He said the event will provide a positive activity for youth and "bridge the gap between the businesses and the local community."
"I think it creates an outlet to give younger kids more of an opportunity to get involved," Goggins said. "Also, I think it will be something that we can build upon going forward, especially if it is an annual event. It shows that Truett's Grill is a major player in the community."
For more information, contact Ali Rice at (770) 210-0500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.