Elite Eight gaining traction in community

Elite Eight gaining traction in community
November 15
10:31 2017

Since its inception in 2011, the Elite 8 nonprofit organization has seen exponential growth in popularity and participation.  Each year the group organizes a flag football game on Thanksgiving Day named the “Turkey Bowl,” a basketball tournament during the Christmas season, and now the group has a kickball game for the ladies to participate in as well.

The organization, which was started by Harry Harris, S. Dot McGriff, Chad Fernanders, Marvin Foster and Tory Woodberry, brings together alumni from North Forsyth, Mount Tabor, Reynolds, West Forsyth, East Forsyth, Parkland, Carver and Glenn high schools.

“When I came back here in 2000 after graduating, I started teaching and I thought to myself there is nothing for our generation to do here when we come home,” said Harris.  “So I said we should have a turkey bowl because my dad is from Wilson and they always have it out there.

“I then thought about how they have the Big Four in the city, so we thought we could create something as well and came up with the Elite Eight,” he continued.  “I was one of the elite athletes in the city, so in my mind I thought about what I can do to bring my whole community and generation together.”

The first year there were only two schools involved in the Turkey Bowl game, East Forsyth and Mount Tabor.  East Forsyth was the initial champion and the next year they had all the schools involved.  After seeing the success of the football game, they collaborated to make a basketball tournament the next year.

“We wanted to implement both of those games under one umbrella and since they had a catchy name like the Big Four. I wanted to have a catchy name, too, and came up with the Elite Eight for the next generation,” he continued.

This year the organization has partnered with The Chronicle to bring more attention to what the organization does off the field of play.  Along with the games, the organization collects canned goods during their tournaments to be donated to the local Salvation Army.  Last year they were able to collect over 1,000 cans for the needy.

According to Harris, the event has continued to grow each and every year.  He says he enjoys the fact everyone can come together for a peaceful event along with being able to help the less fortunate with the canned goods.

The “Turkey Bowl” will take place at Miller Park and will start at 8 a.m.  There is a $4 entry fee and everyone is encouraged to bring cans for donating purposes.  Reynolds is the defending champion in both the Turkey Bowl and the basketball tournament.

“I am totally surprised this event has taken off like it has over the years,” Harris said.  “The communities really come out to show love for their schools.  We are trying to build a tradition with this and the way it’s taking off it looks to be headed that way.”

Over the years Harris says he has received nothing but positive responses from those involved in the game as well as people who come out to watch.  He says he is happy to bring something positive to the city. 

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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