With any startup youth sports program, there is always a question of whether it will get off the ground. The landscape is competitive and, in many cases, oversaturated with options.
But Nick Field knew right away he was onto something when he launched the Beaufort Hustle AAU basketball program last year.
Field, then an assistant boys basketball coach at Beaufort High School, when nearly 100 players from throughout the area turned up for the program’s first tryout. Players came from 11 area schools with 60 making the cut for four grade-based teams — seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th.
The success didn’t end there. The seventh-grade team won two tournaments, and the ninth-graders won eight titles, building a great foundation for the future. In addition to fielding four boys teams this season — eighth, ninth, 10th, and 11th/12th — the Hustle will add a girls’ program this season and could expand to younger age groups if there is enough interest. Field expects upwards of 100 players to come out to tryouts from Feb. 24-26, with players coming from as far as Greenville and Spartanburg to try out for a spot on one of the teams.
“I started this program to help kids,” Field said. “I love working with kids and I love the game of basketball. It was clear to me that something new was needed in the community for kids that play basketball. They needed a program where they could get great coaching, great competition, and to travel outside of the Lowcountry.”
Field, now the athletics director at Beaufort Academy, said parents of players he has coached over the years had long encouraged him to start his own travel program, and it finally fit into his schedule last year. This year’s schedule will be a bit more challenging for the older teams, Field said, as the Hustle spreads its wings in search of the strongest competition and more exposure.
“Our objective is to not only provide a positive experience and outlet for the youth in the community, but to also prepare student-athletes for the next level,” Field said. “For some of the students that meant middle school, JV, or varsity, and some of our kids are preparing to play in the college ranks.”
If students are interested in playing for the Hustle, they can register for tryouts and get more info at beauforthustle.com. Coaches interested in joining the program can email firstname.lastname@example.org.