By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Eleven years ago, Running Rebels, a nonprofit group of Milwaukee established the Fresh Coast Classic or FCC for short. The objective was to generate interest for college among high school students, the plan the included hosting a tournament among historically black college basketball teams. Over the years, the teams have changed as well as the court, but the fan’s spirit and the Running Rebel’s original purpose has remained the same.
This year, the FCC will be held during Thanksgiving weekend, with the tournament and drumline competition taking place Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25. For many, it is the kick off to basketball season.
Russell Thomas is a recreation manager for Milwaukee Public Schools, he is also a member of the FCC board. He explained that when FCC first started, the tournament was specifically for historically black colleges.
“It’s a fan-friendly event,” Thomas said. The tournament offers an opportunity for spectators to witness some of Milwaukee’s high school teams.
While the event received support, in 2007 they paired with MPS. They then decided that instead of having college teams play, which was costly and lacking fan support, it would be better to have high school teams play.
The tournament is by invitation only. Any team that plays has been invited by the committee. It is usually based off how well the team did the previous year, according to Thomas.
The following teams will be playing in this year’s tournament: Milwaukee Golda Meir, New Berlin West, Milwaukee Marshall, Beaver Dam, Milwaukee Hamilton, Sussex Hamilton, Milwaukee King, Mukwonago, Milwaukee Riverside, Arrowhead, Wauwatosa West, Cedarburg, Milwaukee Washington, Brown Deer, Milwaukee Bay View, Pius XI, Milwaukee Messmer, West Allis Central, Milwaukee South, DePere, Milwaukee Vincent, New Berlin Eisenhower, Destiny and Greendale Martin Luther.
In addition to having high school students play, FCC also features a college fair where students and parents can explore colleges and speak with university representatives. This year’s college fair took place Thursday, November 16.
Aside from the college fair, the tournament is held at UWM’s Klotsche Center. It is FCC fourth year at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
According to Thomas, UWM is the right venue because for several reasons including the fact that it allows the teams to play on a college court. It also, “get kids excited about the urban college.”
Many students in certain zip codes are unaware of where UWM is and the opportunities it offers, Thomas said. Through this partnership, students can learn more about UWM and as a result, the college receives between eight thousand and ten thousand visitors.
Although the tournament is a great opportunity for basketball enthusiasts, FCC also features a drum line competition.
As of late, the drum line is the most recent change to the FCC and has only been a part of it for a few years. Thomas said drum teams work hard year-round to ensure they’re ready for the competition and winners to receive a thousand dollar package.
The first game on Friday will start at 9:25 am and feature a showdown between Milwaukee Golda Meir and New Berlin West. The final hand-off of the night will begin at 9:00 pm with a game between Milwaukee Washington and Brown Deer. Those interested in the tournament can text Fresh Coast to 31996 for entry or search Fresh Coast Classic at events.ticketpicket.com.