The spirit of the Kreul Classic is still going strong in Coral Springs, as it marks its 24th annual championship games at the city's gymnasium from today through Saturday.
This national high school basketball tournament, which includes Coconut Creek's North Broward Prep Eagles, has offered a multitude of opportunities to players, including exposure to scouts and the chance to land scholarships.
This year's event welcomes back Devin Barta, the head coach at Coral Springs High School. As a former Colts player, Barta reflected on what it meant for him to be a part of this event, having played in the Kreul more than a decade ago.
"It's an amazing feeling being able to return to the Kreul and coach my alma mater. I have some fond memories of playing in the Kreul and I look forward to the tournament every year," said Barta, who played point guard for Springs in the 2001 and 2002 Kreul games and went on to coach the school's junior varsity team from 2006 to 2011.
"Playing in the Kreul, I know I'll have to keep my team well-rested and mentally sharp for the intense week of basketball."
It seems the best way Barta can prepare his team for the upcoming competition, may be incorporating his Kreul-veteran mindset.
"My strategy for coaching a team that I once played on is to try and get the best out of every young man I coach, both on and off the court," Barta said. "My goal is to make a positive effect on these young men's lives that they will carry with them into the future. If I can do that and win some games along the way, then I've done my job."
And having a good impact on his players is sure to be possible, as he can act as an inspiration for those who are college-bound, yet may be financially-challenged.
Barta not only has Kreul playing experience in his basketball portfolio, but he continues to have appreciation for having earned a Kreul-funded college scholarship, which played a major role in him having attended Florida Atlantic University.
"I had an awesome experience going to college at FAU. The Kreul scholarship allowed me to focus on my degree without the pressures of paying for college," said Barta, who earned his degree in marketing.
Barta's commingling of proving that Kreul scholarship monies can be well-spent and being a former player, warrant his great expectations for his team in the 2013 games.
He said he hopes to not only make the city of Coral Springs proud, but the school as well.
"My goals for this year's tournament are to have my team play hard and compete in every game," Barta said.
With all the hype surrounding this festive event again, Kreul President Jim Reilly continues to show his pleasure from year to year.
"Obviously the support of the City of Coral Springs and BCAA (Broward County Athletic Association) along with our sponsors is vital to our existence. However, the Kreul is an example of the spirit of volunteerism,'" Reilly said. "Each year brings more talented players, future college and NBA stars, and more importantly, a great experience for our youth."
Additional local teams to watch at this year's Kreul include teams from: Coral Springs Charter, Coral Springs Christian, North Broward Prep., Deerfield Beach, Zion Lutheran, Western, Dillard, Pine Crest, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Gibbons, Flanagan and Sagemont; from Miami are teams from Belen Jesuit and Gulliver Prep.; and from Port Orange is Spruce Creek.
Schools traveling across the state border include teams from: Coolidge (Washington, DC), Northwood Temple (Fayetteville, NC), Salem (GA), Brewbaker Tech (Montgomery, AL), De La Salle (Chicago, IL), South Shore (Brooklyn, NY, Whitefield (Mabelton, GA), Carver (Montgomery, AL), Grant County (Dry Ridge, KY), Lee (Huntsville, AL), Fairfield Central (Winnsboro, SC) and Prestonwood Christian (Plano, TX).