Insight News

Dec 22nd

(Mr. T's Sports Report) The next level of Protect the E.D.G.E.

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mrtsportsrepAny member of the team that many call ‘The Greatest High School Basketball Team of All-Time” more than likely has a bird’s eye view of the world that few will ever know or even dream of.  Anyone would have to imagine that a kid going through an experience such as that would have quite the story to tell, and the experience to back it up.  Many in the Twin Cities are already aware of the name Coach Q, but the hoop-dream baptism that young Quadree Drakeford experienced in his time at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, NC, provides a story that anyone can sit and be riveted to for hours, and I’m proof.  Fortunately for the youth of the Twin Cities, Coach Q has converted his experience into an exploding basketball concept by the name of Protect the E.D.G.E. (PTE).

Last year I reported on the solid concept foundation and success that PTE rests upon.  For those who missed that article, check the Insight archives on or to cover the basic educational and athletic premise of this brilliant and passionate camp. As we follow up with the growth of this system of youth development camps, complete with its sister organization Butterfly Springs, which provides tutoring services, I wanted to make readers aware of the inspiration that birthed PTE.  Before that though, I will mention that the big PTE 4th Annual Basketball Camp takes place at Brooklyn Center High School on August 3-6 (ages 8-17) together with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA.

For kids and coaches to call a high school team ‘The Greatest High School Basketball Team of All-Time’ is one thing; when USA Today says it, and Sports Illustrated backs it up with a four-page spread, then I think it is time to pull up a chair and study the blueprints.  First of all, most people who have sniffed the leather of a basketball, or the funk of a gym, know that people in the state of North Carolina are as serious about basketball as Prince is about the color purple…maybe more.  Thus, one can only imagine the regional passion and pressure to provide the high school equivalent to the Duke University (Durham, NC) and North Carolina University collegiate basketball juggernauts.

In the case of the 1997 Mt. Zion Christian Academy basketball team, eight All-American rated basketball players graced the 14 or so member squad.  That’s right; that means that players coming off of the bench were All-Americans.  Most amazing teams have a superstar phenom and one other talented player that catches the phenom’s drift.  This Mt. Zion team, however, had eight All-Americans!! The phenom on this team was NBA superstar Tracy McGrady.  For those who perhaps don’t know the name Tracy McGrady, just imagine LeBron James without muscles, and with a better jump shot.  McGrady was drafted directly to the NBA after his 1997 senior year.  “Any player on our team could have easily gone and starred at any other team in the nation.  We had players from all over the southeastern seaboard, and we went to a major Christian private school in North Carolina.  I mean we lived together! In a big house! With the coach and his wife and kids! And traveled all over the country kickin’ major butt in front of wild crowds!” said Drakeford.

To listen to Drakeford vividly recant about household collegiate and professional basketball names is captivating and wakes up every competitive memory of your own. “We were a brotherhood: A family.” Drakeford expressed in summary of the experience.

Coach Q is the wise diamond that came out of that pressure-packed experience.  Through harnessing the wisdom of his unique basketball experience, together with his personal drive to create improved methods for youth development, Coach Q created PTE. 

“These kids need us, man,” he said.  “We have to show them how to be the best at whatever they do.  I’ve seen some of the mightiest stars…my friends…and they didn’t make it to their potential.  Many aren’t able to channel their basketball skills to life skills. If a child is successful in life, then basketball success will be a breeze.  We teach kids how to do that on top of very critical basketball skills. They will become better players and people if you let us at ‘em.”

In addition to the quality programming (including food, speakers, and a Lynx game, amongst much more), PTE is priced for extreme affordability compared to many other high-quality camps.  “The Lynx are an excellent, credible, young organization, and their support is helping to spread our message of hope to other corporate partners, but of course we welcome all the support we can get.  We have (Glaceau) Vitamin Water sponsoring now!!  It’s time to take these kids to the next level!” exclaimed Drakeford.

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