WELLSBURG - As head basketball coach at Brooke High School, Dave Reitter receives plenty of mail touting everything from equipment to tournament opportunities.
Because of its ties to a scholarship opportunity, a letter providing details on the KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Fla., caught his eye.
"The KSA deal offers a $350 book scholarship to a player from every team participating," Reitter said recently. "Plus, each team winner then has an opportunity to receive a major scholarship."
Reitter explained once he read the information, he immediately began talking to members of his coaching staff and simply asked, "what do you think, can we do this?"
The answer obviously was yes. Reitter and his Bruins were in Orlando from Dec. 27 through Tuesday, participating in the Blue Bracket of the KSA event, staged at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex.
Brooke began play with a 42-36 victory over Horace Mann High School from New York. Game two saw the Bruins earn a 71-61 win against Colts Neck High School out of New Jersey. Reitter's crew dropped a 61-48 verdict to Dublin Scioto, located near Columbus, in the title game of the bracket.
Reitter noted the primary mission of KSA events is to promote the educational aspects of athletic participation, including team-work, sportsmanship, work-ethic and responsibility. All KSA scholarships are awarded in accordance with the eligibility regulations of the National Federation of State High School Associations and appropriate state athletic associations.
Each team's winner is selected by either the school principal, athletic director or coach based on the following criteria: the award is to be granted to the best all-around student-athlete on the team. This definition is to include accomplishments and leadership not only on the court, but also in the classroom and community.
Brooke, Reitter said, has yet to select its team winner.
"We need to look at grade-point averages and community involvement," he added. "We have five or six kids who would be great choices. It's going to be a tough decision."
Financing the Florida trip for 13 players and two coaches took lots of hard work and effort, but, as Reitter pointed out, supporters of the program were up to the challenge.
"When we started talking about this opportunity, our parents got on board quickly as did our players," he said. "The parents and our boosters went out and started to raise money immediately. They did whatever they could to come up with the funds. In fact, they're still raising a little bit of money."
A final fundraiser is set for Jan. 12 at Applebee's in Steubenville.
"They did a great job of raising money, that's how we got there," Reitter continued. "We had business owners donate and a former player wrote a check for $500 because he realized this would be a great experience for the kids."
Reitter stressed that none of the money used came from the school district or any other public source. He noted parents who made the trip "paid for themselves."
The Florida trip was the first of its kind for Reitter, who has been involved in coaching for roughly 42 years.
"We've gone to places like Martinsburg before for holiday tournaments, but this definitely was a little nicer," he said. "The kids really enjoyed themselves. We played early in the day so the kids were able to visit the park.
"There was a Disney character breakfast on Sunday and a dinner of champions on Monday. The dinner had performers from Circus du Soleil, featured various entertainment and ended with a huge fireworks display."
From a basketball standpoint, Reitter noted "it was a successful trip for us."
"Any time you play, you always want to win but I thought our kids enjoyed themselves and played well," he continued. "They got to bond a little more than normal and KSA does a nice job of pairing up schools in the various brackets so the competition is balanced."
Hunter Wallace, who scored 11 points in the title against Dublin, was named the Brooke MVP.
The coach offered his sincere thanks to all those who worked hard to make the trip possible for his Bruins.
"All in all, it was a great experience and I would do it again in a minute," Reitter added.