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Elginite starts movement with basketball, leadership program

The 2012 eighth grade EPIC Hoopz basketball team celebrates last summer after first several first place tournament finishes season. From

The 2012 eighth grade EPIC Hoopz basketball team celebrates last summer after the first of several first place tournament finishes of the season. From left to right: Damien Young, Trell Mardi, Trevon Lindsey, Lavion Baldwin, Keion Adams, Marshall Price, J.T. Ford, Brad Barker, Desmond Douglas, Robbie Fehlman, DeShaun Elam, Robby Jiminez, Justin Anthony, Jeron Shelton. Submitted photo.

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If you go

What: EPIC Youth Presidents Day (Basketball) Skills Camp

When: 8 a.m. to noon, Monday, Feb. 18

Where: Harvest Christian Academy, 1000 N. Randall Road, Elgin

How much: $40

Web: For more information, or to sign up, contact or visit

Updated: February 28, 2013 6:33AM

ELGIN — Justin Anthony knows what it is like to grow up in Elgin. The 24-year-old has lived in the city his whole life.

And he knows the difference sports and faith and setting high standards made in his life.

That’s what he wants to offer youth growing up now in the Fox Valley area. And that’s why he’s started the EPIC Youth Movement, a nonprofit that combines basketball and faith along with leadership development and college prep.

“Looking at these kids, seeing myself in them, understanding now just the different mindset that I have compared to when I was in their shoes — I wanted to be able to give back to them and show them what I had,” Anthony said.

EPIC (Empowering People in Christ) Youth is an Amateur Athletic Union basketball program for boys in fourth through 10th grades, starting up this spring in Elgin. It will host a daylong basketball skills camp on Presidents Day and tryouts in February and March, all at Harvest Christian Academy, 1000 N. Randall Road. Elgin.

Its teams then will play tournaments this spring and summer with other AAU teams from across the area, with the possibility to advance to national tournaments, Anthony said. But the Christian organization also will focus on building leadership skills such as discipline and teamwork on the basketball court.

The idea came from its founder’s own upbringing, starting all four years on the Elgin Academy basketball team, he said. And it grew out of his experiences heading up the Junior Hilltoppers feeder team at the academy for the two years after he graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University, he said.

Several parents had asked him to start a summer basketball team, he said, so last year he started an AAU basketball team for boys in fifth through eighth grades, Hoopz U. That program drew not only Elgin Academy students but also three teams of 11 or 12 boys each from across the Fox Valley, he said.

EPIC Youth grew out of Anthony’s desire to work with those kids in “a holistic approach,” he said.

“It really stems from the car rides to the tournaments with the kids and talking to them after practice and really hearing their conversations with each other. The big goal with what we’re doing is to raise the standards of the kids and get them to think bigger,” he said.

This year, he said, he hopes to form six or seven teams of students. More information about EPIC Youth is at or from Justin Anthony at

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