For Albany's Go Hard Youth basketball program, it's not always about basketball.
"Georgia Go Hard is all about academics and all about sports. We're going to do whatever we need to do to "Go Hard" on the court as well as in the classroom," program coordinator Ravii Givens said.
Because of that "go hard" style employed by Givens and his staff, five local teams are on their way to the Youth Basketball National Championships this summer in Orlando.
Some players say without Givens' program, the July tournament would have been the last thing on their minds.
"For me being in the teen years, I would probably be in the streets, but (Go Hard) kept me out of the streets from doing bad things and bad habits. Staying away from things like: alcohol, drugs and gangs," 7th grader and Thomasville-native Jamarea Grier said.
Five teams, a combined 80 boys and girls will head south in early July in hopes of national titles, but this experience and the life lessons are just as important as a trophy.
"Have fun and be happy that you made it to the Nationals," 4th grader Haven Brady said.
"It's going to be exciting, but we got to work to win a championship," 6th grader Kris Gardener said.
Givens says his players are already champions and they'll be standing proud at the end of the tournament- no matter what happens.
"We try to teach the fundamentals. We do want to win games, but you know sometimes you do loseâ|we want to make sure they're learning how to play the game the right way," Givens said.
To help the Georgia Go Hard Program contact: Ravii Givens at 229-291-0507.