By Marty Gordon
Christmas was very special for the Auburn boys’ basketball team as they spent the weekend before at Disney World. The trip was part of the team’s participation in tournament play in Orlando, Florida.
Overall, Auburn finished the tournament at 1-2 (lost to Conrad Academy 73-69; lost to Montour High 67-42; and beat Middle Tennessee Christian 76-57). Ethan Millirons was named the KSA tournament most valuable player for the Eagles.
Coach Terry Millirons called all three opponents as being very athletic and well coached.
“They also played different styles compared to what we see from local teams here. The game experience should help us down the road,” he said.
This was not the coach’s first time at the Disney World tournament. “During my last season as the varsity girls’ coach eight years ago, we took that team to the same tournament. We did it as a way to hopefully get more kids excited about playing and to hopefully encourage kids to continue with basketball as they progress through their high school years,” he said.
When the opportunity arose again this year, Millirons jumped at the trip.
“We decided to start doing it with the boys’ program this year because we knew we had some strong groups of kids that have been dedicated, since a young age, to playing basketball. We wanted to reward those players and families with the opportunity to have an unique experience.”
Anyone can go to the tournament, which is put on KSA Events, a company that puts on these types of events in several locations for multiple sporting events. This one was one of two tournaments that they put on in Orlando before Christmas.
Of course, the trip didn’t come without a lot of fundraising events before they could go. “We have a golf tournament that we hold in late summer, plus we had a ‘Comedy Hypnotist Show ‘that we did in the Fall. We also have several AAU Basketball Tournaments that we hold at Auburn throughout the year,” Millirons said.
But the basketball tournament was not the only new experience for the Auburn group. “We flew out of Raleigh, so that was a first for several of the players. We also had a 2-Day Disney Park Hopper that allowed us to visit all four of the Disney theme parks. We also had 2-Day passes to Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventure,” Millirons said.
“We wanted this trip to help reward the kids for all of the hard work that they have done, not only this year but over their whole career. We wanted this to help bring them closer together as friends and teammates and give them an experience that they will remember the rest of their lives. It also gave us an opportunity to face teams that play a different style of basketball than what we see here.”
Several family members accompanied the team and were able to buy the same package from KSA and do the same things that the players got to do.
Auburn’s plan is to go every two years. “That way everyone that comes through the program will get at least one opportunity to go,” Millirons concluded.