Building Character and Heart

The Texas Hurricanes Organization, a competitive youth basketball program, teaches basketball skills and fosters good sportsmanship through teamwork, self-discipline, self-confidence and respect.

By: Stephanie Kusy
Photos by: Paul Marshall

The lights shine brightly on the basketball court at the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Bend, though the sun has long since set outside. Head Coach Marcus Williams blows the whistle, and a team of high-school boys run toward the sidelines, sweat dripping down their faces. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Williams tells them. Practice may be over, but the competitive training season has just begun.

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The Texas Hurricanes varsity traveling team looks to become the national champions for the third consecutive year of the All American Sports Basketball Tournament this summer. In a thriving baseball community, this may come as a surprise. Yet Williams and Assistant Coach Joe Early are quickly gaining respect and changing the landscape for young athletes focused on getting looks from college coaches.

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The history of the Texas Hurricanes Organization is one filled with blood, sweat, tears and a love for the game. The two coaches developed a friendship 27 years ago when Early attended King High School basketball games to watch Williams play. “I have so much respect for him,” Early said. “I couldn’t ask for a better friendship. We never argue. We have the same goals for these kids. We want the best for them.”

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In 2008, Williams and Early began volunteering their time to coach young players from various organizations in the Coastal Bend, developing their basketball skills with an emphasis on fitness and conditioning. “We work like Batman and Robin,” explained Early on how they collaborate. “We butt heads every now and then, but we want the same results. We are on the same page.”

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With athletic children of their own, they quickly realized they needed a more organized plan to become a successful traveling team so their players could gain statewide and national exposure. “We are so far down South that college coaches don’t come down here to recruit,” Williams said. “That’s when we started trying to get on a bigger level so our kids can be seen.”

The organization began traveling in 2013, taking a young high-school team across Texas to compete in several tournaments. In recent years, they have gone on to travel as far as New Orleans and Las Vegas. For many of these kids, it is their first time to travel out of the state or even step foot on an airplane.

In 2015, the team went to Orlando, Fla., to compete in the Big Foot International Basketball tournament at which over 480 teams participated. They placed sixth in the division for 11th-graders. As an added bonus, to reward them for good grades earned during the school year, the coaches took the players to visit Universal Studios after the tournament. “Kids that aren’t as fortunate to travel – this is a chance for them to get to see things,” Williams said. “They will always carry that with them.”

As the team fine-tuned their skills, colleges began to take notice. Last year, three seniors, including Williams’ son, were offered scholarships to play college basketball. “We are just trying to do what we can to make the future brighter for students,” Williams said. Five seniors this year hope to receive either an academic or an athletic scholarship to attend college.

When the traveling season ends after summer, the two coaches shift their focus to coaching youth as young as 6 in basketball and football at the Boys & Girls Club and the YWCA. “When Southside schools play against the Northside schools, it’s very lopsided,” Williams said. “It’s not due to the fact that those kids aren’t athletes. It’s just that they haven’t been taught.”

Their organization strives to teach great basketball skills and foster good sportsmanship through teamwork, self-discipline and responsible citizenship. “It is not just about basketball; it’s about respect,” Williams said. “It is about being in shape. It is about getting good grades. Hard work pays off, and there’s a reason why we have seen success.”

Success never comes without its challenges, though. For one, the organization struggles to find open gyms for kids to practice. According to both coaches, a big need exists for a sports complex in the area so kids can use it whenever they want to play basketball or workout instead of having to go to a gym.

Tragedy also struck this tightly knit organization when one of the player’s parents passed away from cancer. Williams and Early are currently applying for a 501(c)(3) status in hopes to raise funds and eventually create a sports complex in honor of the late father. “He meant so much to us,” Williams said. “That’s a way we could honor him. He loved sports so much, and he has three sons himself.”

But the Texas Hurricanes Organization pushes on. Through extensive fundraising, they are adding a varsity girls traveling team named the Texas Dream to compete across the nation this summer alongside the varsity boys traveling team. Both coaches have fulltime day jobs and dedicate their evenings and weekends to helping kids succeed in sports and stay fit. The organization prides itself on being a humble group that consists of loyal student athletes, coaches and parents, and that supports developing the next generation of leaders.

“We love what we do,” Early said. “Over the years, God gave me the gift to build a successful organization. With Williams’ gift of coaching, my gift of organizing and the support of our sponsors, we can do a lot of things.”

More information about the organization and upcoming basketball camps can be found at www.leaguelineup.com/txhurricanes.

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