By Bonitta Best
It’s going to be a busy summer in the Triangle.
Phoenix Suns star and now Winston-Salem State alumnus Chris Paul, co-owner of TBT Enterprises, which produces The Basketball Tournament, is bringing a million-dollar soccer tournament to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.
The Soccer Tournament is a winner-take-all $1 million format to be played over four days in June.
And, just like The Basketball Tournament, TST will feature 32 teams in a 7v7 model going up against each other in group play before moving to the knockout stages.
“The model breeds intense competition and is built for success beyond just basketball. That's why I'm so excited to be part of the team as we launch TST, and why I expect it to have as much of an impact on the sport of soccer as TBT has had on basketball,” Paul said.
The open-entry process allows any team or group in the world to compete for the million-dollar prize. Cary will be rockin’. Visit TheTournament.com to learn more.
Long Ball Durham celebrates 14 years
It’s hard to believe that Long Ball Durham will begin its 14th season in May. Hardly anybody gave founder Pat Nobles a chance in hades to not only get the league going but sustaining it over a period of time.
Why? Because Long Ball is part of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, or RBI for short, and the 13- to 19-year-old players are mostly from Durham’s urban communities.
When Durham Parks & Recreation discontinued its 13 and over baseball program, only Nobles cared enough to see how she could fill in the gap for the young men during the summer months. She had a son in that age range at the time, and he was just as disappointed as the rest that the league had been canceled.
Nobles discovered that Minor League Baseball was involved with the RBI program and was looking for test cities. She did her research, filled out all the paperwork and submitted Durham as an applicant. Fourteen years later, here we are.
Long Ball Durham has gone from barely making ends meet to winning awards and sponsorships, and acceptance in its own community. Today – get this – the league is about one-third diverse. The last time I went to cover a game I thought I was at the wrong stadium.
Long Ball’s senior team won the 2019 RBI Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, and the junior team took the 2022 title. That being said, Nobles emailed to say that the junior team’s three volunteer coaches will not be returning this summer.
Coaches can work around their schedules, and while there’s no monetary pay involved, there are occasional perks from sponsors who haven’t jumped ship, not to mention the opportunity to mentor impressionable young men. Anyone interested can email Nobles at email@example.com and put Long Ball Coach in the subject line.
The league also needs additional sponsors and/or donations to participate in this year’s Mid-Atlantic Regionals and defend its title. Long Ball’s cash app is $Longball09 or, if that’s not your thing, visit longballdurham.com and donate there. Opening day is May 30.