Miami-Dade County

Local basketball league grows, hosts All-Star Event

FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Elite Sports Miami, a relatively new local youth basketball league, started with high but realistic preliminary expectations. In their second year, they have exceeded their expectations.

The league had 200 participants in their first year, which according to owner Junior Gonzalez, takes about a year to achieve. Now, they have over 350 participants, almost double from their first year.

“The word about us has spread so quickly and so fast that it caught us off guard. We’re beyond blessed,” Gonzalez said.

The league consists of 28 teams, ranging from ages 5 through 18. There are multiple seasons a year and 10 games a season.

In addition to the games, Elite Sports Miami organizes an All-Star day, which they just hosted Sunday, Oct. 25, for all children and families that participate in the league and for people who want to come and enjoy the event.

Every year, the All-Star Event has more different activities.

The basketball-related activities are: East vs West All-Star games for every age group, a three-point competition, free throw challenge, shooting starts challenge (a player, coach and parent are on each team) and a game involving parents and coaches.

They also have a photo opportunity with the Miami Heat’s Larry O’Brien trophy, face painting, catered lunch, a raffle to win a free season, and performances by ex-American Idol finalist Alexandra Bachelier, Moving Artists Dance Company and Miami Bboy Academy.

The event was a success.

“The parents say it was fun and they’re happy they are a part of it. We always get positive feedback. No other league in Kendall and Miami does that for parents. And the kids feel like they’re at Disney World. They have a blast,” co-owner and brother of Junior, Manuel said.

But Elite Sports Miami doesn’t only focus on basketball. The league also helps the community.

They organize a toy drive for Miami Children’s Hospital where they give out over 300 toys for sick children who otherwise won’t be home for the holidays.

Soon, they will start an initiative to feed the homeless.

The league also does what they can to help their home facility, the gym at Greater Miami Adventist Academy.

The cover charge for the All-Star event is $2 that goes directly to the school’s scholarship fund.

“I’m really blessed and thankful they’ve given us the opportunity to use the gym,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and Manuel, created the league idea and haven’t looked back.

Manuel coached at another local league for seven years before helping the inception of Elite Sports Miami.

Dominant athletes as teenagers, Gonzalez and Manuel found themselves playing sports on the streets quite often.

“We were going from park to park where we would play in the outdoor courts. You could see violence, fights happening, people smoking, so you saw all the negative stuff,” Gonzalez said. “We pulled a big percentage of kids out of neighborhoods, from all over Miami.”

They discussed the idea and decided to try to make something that they didn’t have when they were growing up.

Elite Sports Miami is entirely family owned by Gonzalez, Manuel and their wives Bianca and Judy.

Gonzalez was adamant about his dedication to Elite Sports Miami.

“I’ve hustled working hard for this, man. My dedication to this, and my passion, just makes me go above and beyond everybody else. Now people want to sponsor us because they see what we’re doing for the community. ”

They are now partners with the Miami Heat. League members will be able to high five players as they come out of the tunnel on certain game days, meet players and play their championship game at the American Airlines Arena.

Gonzalez and Manuel spoke on the future.

“Season-by-season, my goal is to get better. I want to eventually build my own gym where we have our own facility. We want to add more sports to our program. We want to continue to grow, give more, and help kids be part of something positive,” Gonzalez said.

“I want to expand and grow within the community and Broward. Also, to help out more hospitals and churches. I am trying to get an AAU basketball team, as a traveling team,” Manuel added.

The combine tryouts for the next season are on Dec. 13th. The season starts Jan. 4th.

For more information: http://elitesportsmiami.com/

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