By Tamas Mondovics
With just four girls and as many coaches to train them on the roster committed so far, but with zeal and determination to grow and succeed, the East Tampa Thunder travel basketball club is now ready to hold tryouts and begin ist first season this month.Thanks to the effort of FishHawk resident Robert Walker and a promise to his 12-year-old daughter, Peyton, the areas’ only travel basketball club for middle school students is now a reality.“I started the team because there are very limited venues for middle school-aged girls who are interested in playing basketball,” Walker said. “The county middle school basketball program is not sufficient for preparing girls for high school basketball, so I want to do my part to ensure my daughter, along with other girls in the community, have a healthy option if they desire playing basketball.”Under the direction of Winning Ways Sports Management, the East Tampa Thunder has scheduled two tryouts to start the season: Sundays, November 1 and 8, which, according to Walker, will give those interested two chances to make the team.For now, the team holds its practices on the outdoor courts at Barrington Middle School, but Walker is working hard with members of the local community to find a gym for indoor practices. Walker hopes to coordinate the club’s efforts with one of the local private schools, but said that although this part of the venture has proven itself to be difficult, it was not unexpected.“This has been very tough for us, because we are a small program and we do not have a large amount of resources to compete for space against larger volleyball and boy’s basketball clubs,” Walker said. “But, a promise is a promise,” Walker added. “I want to help prepare middle school girls, like Peyton, for high school basketball.” How does Peyton, who attends Randall Middle School, feel about her dad’s effort to not only fulfill a promise but provide an outlet for other young athletes to play the sport they love close to home?“I love basketball and I am glad to be a part of team,” she said. “My school team only has five games and I would like to play more games and go up against tough competition.”Peyton and her teammates hope is to become better at the sport and to work on improving their basketball skills.For more information about the East Tampa Thunder Travel Basketball Club, please visit www. leaguelineup.com/easttampathunder or call Robert Walker at 662-9506.