Most people don’t understand the rush of adrenaline a basketball player feels as a game-winning shot swishes the net.
But a new team of young men in Danville understands that feeling.
“This team was a gift from God,” Reginald Jeffries said.
“I was overcoming and persevering through some tough times and I was battling trying to understand what my purpose and true calling was in life,” he said. “Before I knew it my dream was becoming a reality.”
Hoping to make an impact in the Danville community, a new professional minor-league basketball team has emerged.
“Originally the team was founded as River City CHAOS with the hopes of turning what seemed to be a chaotic city into a ‘Community Helping Award Opportunities and Success’ but after trial, error, and meditation, I was led to change the team’s name to the River City Dream because we are much more than just chaos,” Jeffries said, who started the team.
It was founded in 2020 and is part of the Official Basketball Association’s Independent League, which is the new premier minor-league basketball league.
“This team was built on trial and error,” Jeffries said. “I started by hosting open gym sessions. Then I built an executive team and held tryouts. I just took a risk and decided to go all in, and it paid off.”
According to Jeffries, the hardest part about being a coach is having so many talented and hard-working young men, but not enough community resources available to develop and have the impact on the community he would like. River City Dream practices at the Abundant Life Church in Danville but play all their home games in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the Lebanon Baptist Church.
The team is made up of Jeffries, team owner and head coach; Tony White Jr., assistant head coach; and 25 players, many of whom started playing basketball at a young age.
“I’ve been playing since I was in about fifth grade and I want to make this a career,” Brandon Hampton, point guard, said. “I want to be in the NBA someday, so I have to start somewhere,”
Tajon Carter, shooting guard, joined to have another chance to do something he loves. He wants to get better and to enhance his skills at a game he’s been playing since he was child alongside his family in their driveway.
“I joined this team because I saw an opportunity to better myself and my community,” point guard Tre Dildy said. “I felt like we could inspire the young kids out there to do more than just be out in the streets. I want them to know there are bigger and better things out there.”
More like a family
River City Dream functions more like a family because they spend just as much time together off the court as they do on it. The teammates even consider each other to be brothers.
“My favorite thing about being on this team is the bond we have off the court. I’ve played on other teams and they’re always competitive,” guard Justin Manns said. “This is a different atmosphere than I’m used to. Everyone here is willing to come together as a unit and a family.”
While most teams focus only on winning games and championships, River City Dream is aiming to do that and much more.
“My goal is always to win,” White said. “I want to make it to the championship game and win, but I’m hoping to teach these young men that no matter how tough things get, they should never give up and never get caught up in the moment.
“Things may seem bad for a while, but eventually it will subside, and good things will come,” he said. “They have to know to stay positive and that dreams can come true.”
For this team, winning games is only the beginning. They are hoping to make their community proud as well.
Dream’s special meaning
The letters that make up the word dream have a special meaning to this team.
“Our goal is to take the game of basketball and innovate our culture and community while developing leaders, restoring hope, empowering youth, accomplishing goals and motivating everyone,” Jeffries said.
River City Dream is currently ranked ninth out of 50 teams nationwide in the league with a record of 6-0 according to their website, and they are on track to compete in the championship in Atlanta this year.
River City Dream streams games live on their Facebook page so if anyone is unable to make it to see them play in person, they can always support them online.
Walker is a multimedia journalism student at Virginia Tech. She wrote this story for her media writing course.