Blue Hawks to hold tryouts at Bunkie Magnet Saturday

Travel basketball team to begin practice next month

Boys and girls interested in playing in a travel basketball program are encouraged to try out for the Louisiana Blue Hawks this Saturday (Feb. 27) in the Bunkie Magnet High gym.

Coach Romaro "Romo" Turner said the AAU team was very successful in 2019 but sat the 2020 season out due to COVID-19 restrictions. He said he is anticipating a successful return to play this year.

The Blue Hawks had tryouts on Feb. 20 for the two boys teams -- 7th and 8th graders and 9th and 10th graders. Approximately 45 boys came out from Avoyelles and neighboring parishes. The girls 8th and 9th grade team tryouts were postponed because several of the athletes were involved in high school basketball playoff games that weekend.

Turner said girls tryouts will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The 7th and 8th boys tryouts will be from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. The 9th and 10th graders will try out from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Coach Ricky Brown said there will be a fee of $20 to try out for the team. Each team will have between 15 and 20 players.

"We will put them through a series of drills during the tryout," Brown said. "Everyone gets a fair chance."

Brown said those chosen for one of the teams may have additional expenses to participate. Each tournament a team plays has an entry fee. For out-of-state tournaments, there may also be meal and lodging costs.

"We have fundraisers -- can shakes, donut sales, raffles -- to pay those costs," Brown said. "We know a lot of these kids come from homes where they don't have a lot of money to pay to play in these tournaments. We do what we can to help them."

BEGAN IN AVOYELLES, EXPANDED TO NEIGHBORS

Turner said the Blue Hawks began in Avoyelles Parish, but it has expanded to include St. Landry, Evangeline and Rapides parishes. Students from other nearby parishes are also eligible for the team if they are able to make it to practice and travel to out-of-state tournaments.

"We compete against the best talent out there," Turner said. "We placed second in a national tournament in Orlando, Fla., in 2019.

Brown said practice will begin after the high school playoffs are finished in March. Turner said the season will begin soon after and will include 10-12 tournaments.

Besides giving the young athletes an opportunity to play the game they love against top players from other states, Turner said the program offers player development, exposure to college recruiters, ACT prep courses and academic support staff to help the players.

Being able to be a member of a Blue Hawks team also provides incentive for the young athletes to do well in school and avoid getting into trouble, Brown noted.

"To be on the team they have to be doing well in school with their grades," Brown said. "They also can't be a discipline problem for their teachers. It's a good way to keep them out of trouble and encourage them to do their best."

For additional information, call Turner at 318-500-4379.

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