The grassroots game has always been a little slippery. AAU Programs competing for players and saying about anything to try and convince a player to run with them for the summer. Coaches and Program Directors constantly spread rumors and lies in an effort to discredit the competition. Programs are being run by agents and professional team personnel, yet they profess to have a real interest in seeing players attend the best schools. All of this in an effort to help a player get a free education! Atleast this is what most of the travel team programs suggest their motivation is yet for some reason none of the top programs will have anything to do with the other.
For the last decade, Miami Tropics and Pump and Run have dominated the grassroots scene. Two well respected programs, with well connected leadership, have placed well over 150 student athletes in high schools and colleges. Their success and refusal to partner with others in the game, has resulted in just about anyone believing that they can run a successful travel team.
PRP Founder, Todd Washington shared his thoughts on why helping players has gotten so competitive.
"We started our program 5 years ago focusing on developing and nurturing 8 and 9 year olds Our approach is different, We don't see Pilin and Jorge as competition. We will be successful no matter how successful Pump and Run and Miami Tropics are. We tell players and parents all the time, that if they prefer to play for either of those clubs, they should do so. And, if for any reason, they decide to play for those guys and they need our help we will be there to help them. We have no interest in controlling players or saying anything negative about any programs. We don't have to play that game that way in order to win. We are going to win regardless, so trashing other people is not part of what we do. I wish I could say the same for some of the guys out here running programs but that's the game in Puerto Rico. Program Heads and their coaches try to trash the competition instead of letting their record and performance speak for itself."
If it is really about helping players some would ask why more programs don't work together and focus solely on getting as many student athletes scholarships as possible.
The guys who last in this game perform, year in and year out. There are no shortcuts to success in the grassroots game, only hard work and discipline will ensure success.