By Joel Hall
Last year, Truett's Grill of Morrow hosted its first-ever Truett's Grill Classic Youth Basketball Tournament, giving 100 students the chance to compete for free Chick-fil-A meals for a year. This year, the Truett's Grill, Clayton County's Dwarf House restaurants, and the Freeplay Foundation for Youth Sports are sponsoring an even bigger tournament for up to 320 students.
The first-ever Chick-fil-A Freeplay Youth Basketball Tournament will take place March 11-13, with championship games taking place on March 20. According to Truett's Grill of Morrow Marketing Director Ali Rice, the tournament games will take place simultaneously at Mount Zion High School, Jonesboro High School and Charles R. Drew High School.
"Last year, we had about 100 [participants]," Rice said. "It was just a one-night tournament ... that was just in one gym. With this year being so big, we had to have it over several days at three different locations. This was all the idea of Randy Burgess, the [general] manager at Truett's Grill. He wanted to have something to give back to the community and we are building on that this year."
According to Rice, the tournament will consist of four age divisions: eight and under, 10 and under, 12 and under, and 14 and under. According to event organizers, the cost of registration is $100 per team, and every team registering must consist of eight to 10 players.
Wesley Goggins, executive director of the Freeplay Foundation for Youth Sports, said that since 2008, the Smyrna-based nonprofit has been dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and providing disadvantaged youths in the metro area with access to sports activities. He said his organization "could not have had a better partner" than Chick-fil-A.
"Our childhood obesity initiative is something very important to us," Goggins said. "Chick-fil-A has one of the healthiest fast-food menus there is. I have a 10-year-old son and Chick-fil-A is one of his favorite restaurants. I am sure the kids will be excited to receive a free meal for a year from Chick-fil-A. In this challenging economy, anything that is attached to the word free is good. Maybe the parents will enjoy it more than the kids."
Rice said each member of the first-place teams in each division will win 52 coupons, good for a free Chick-fil-A meal at Truett's Grill of Morrow, once a week for an entire year. The members of the second-place teams in each division will win 52 coupons good for a free order of Chick-fil-A nuggets once a week for a year, she said.
All participants will receive a free T-shirt and a gift bag filled with various items, according to Rice.
According to Goggins, proceeds from the event will benefit the Freeplay Fund, a scholarship program that helps underprivileged youths participate in league sports programs around metro Atlanta.
Goggins said that March 9 is the cutoff date for tournament registration. Following March 9, the tournament bracket will be viewable online at www.thefreeplayfoundation.org.
For more information, call (678) 544-1644.