Monday, January 12, 2009
Una Bears and its unstoppable force bring their winning ways to Music City Inaugural Charity Ball
After going through its Midstate Triple B schedule undefeated at 12-0 last fall, the Una Bears of Nashville were invited to compete at a national championship tournament in Florida.
But it couldn't go because of a lack of funds. The price of gas was too high.
That will never happen again, because of the Music City Inaugural Charity Ball, the biggest gathering outside of Washington, D.C. -- in just nine days.
The Bears are one of 21 charities in Nashville that will be helped with proceeds from the event. Tickets are $100 each and tax deductible.
Go to www.volunteernashville.com to order tickets that will be available to you at the door at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel.
While she would object, the heart and soul of the support that makes this team a perennial winner is a spirited, indomitable and beautiful woman named Lanetta Carson-Bell, education program manager at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Her son,, Jordan, 9, is an offensive star on the team.
But no one is spoken of or highlighted before the team, whose members must meet academic standards before ever getting on the athletic field. And grades are judged year-round.
"We made it clear that the No. 1 priority to be part of the team is academic as well as behavior, and there are progress reports," said Carson-Bell, who has her Bachelor of Sciences degree in Criminal Justice.
"Without education, you cannot be an athlete."
Rod Sims is the head coach, but the foundation goes way back to Coach Patton, who still is there for advice as society changes but the need to help our children move forward stays the same.
These young males still have not made it through middle school, but they go to practice Monday through Thursday. A big advantage at those practices is male role models from the school and community. And then there is the community and school support that Carson-Bell drives as much as the coaches do the team.
While lacking money to go to Florida was a disappointment, the team instead went to the Kentuckiana Tournament in Louisville, playing two games a day and winning it all -- as usual. The cost still was $400 per family underneath the banner of "The Una Family".
Now the Una Family has greatly expanded, coming under the support of the new Music City Inaugural Ball. The group behind the ball, including the host committee of 44, will continue to meet and act after the event -- under the leadership of the Rev. Enoch Fuzz and Sharon White-Skaggs, co-chairs.
The duo voted for different candidates for president but believe in the same cause of making a better Nashville and America. (Fuzz was smart to add a doer such as Carson-Bell to the Committee of 44.)
Helping to build a better future through our children -- from the Una neighborhood of Nashville to Compton in the LA area to Brooklyn in New York City -- is a non-partisan effort that should reach across race, religion and class. That's what the Music City Inaugural Charity Ball on Jan. 20 is about.
And it's also about 26 middle school students, their coaches, the legendary Coach Patton, role models and the unstoppable force known as Lanetta Carson-Bell.
EPILOGUE: After receiving direct orders from Carson-Bell, who gives them so easily, here is the roster of the team and coaches I've typed in name by name:
Isiah Gentry, 72; Joseph Guydon, 73; William Sizemore, 92; Malcolm Hadley, 91; Brandon Adams, 95; Casey Perkins, no number; Timetric Hodges, 1; Jacoby Stevens, 2; Marquis Davis, 5; Jason Clarke, 7; Darius Ferguson, 10; Steve Hampton, 17; Ryan Fuqua, 20; Jeremiah Pittman, 21; Adrian Roper, 24; Brandon Lewis, 32; Jordan Bell, 33; D'Andre Alexander, 34; Jakarion Ruffin, 35; Dieon Boyd, 44; Darius Harris, 80; Matthew Upton, 85; James S. Kirk, 88; Aaron Jones, 50; Adrian Jones, 60; Nyles Harris, 61; Brieon True, 71; assistant coaches Ira Covington; Almose Thompson, Shawn Brashers, Harry Whitaker and Woody Woodward.