BTM Boys Sensational Stateside Trip to Boston
The BTM Boys team featured 10 players aged 18 and under from Sussex and Worcester, who would take on the incredible city of Boston, USA and the basketball, culture and activities that is has to offer.
Boston is one of the major cities on the East Coast and home to exceptional basketball, which would be eye-opening for the British players as they would face the competitive and aggressive US style of play.
The tour party consisted of BTM Rep Tom, Head Coach Dan Gayle and players Max M, Lewis, Lucas, Ben H, Ben C, Alfie, Max G, Marc, Fred and Joe, all of whom conducted themselves incredibly well and represented their schools, clubs and country superbly.
Day 1 – Monday
The team arrived late-morning at Heathrow Airport, where they were greeted by BTM Rep Tom, as well as the Russell Hoops team and Coach Jack who were going to be joining them in Boston. The boys were brimming with excitement as they checked-in, got through security and boarded the plane to Boston Logan Airport.
Once on the plane they made the most of the in-flight entertainment, sending messages to each other from the seats and watching a variety of the latest movies. Joe seemed particularly enthralled by the messaging system and made sure to stay in constant communication with all his teammates for the entirety of the journey.
After what seemed like a particularly swift 7 hours, the plane landed in Boston and the boys disembarked, got through customs, picked up their bags and tracked down the coach that would transport them to the Holiday Inn Mansfield-Foxboro about an hour South of the airport. Upon arrival they were treated to a variety of pizzas, which they gobbled down before being introduced to Coach Dan Gayle, who had flown in from Atlanta that evening. After an intro, some chatter and a bit of hotel exploration they headed to their rooms for some much needed rest.
Day 2 – Tuesday
The boys met for breakfast at 8.30 am, where the fantastic buffet selection included eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, waffles, croissants, fruit and much more. Alfie went straight for the waffle machine, a unique opportunity to eat this classic American breakfast dish. After fuelling up they hopped in the buses driven by BTM Rep Tom and Coach Dan and were driven the brief 5-minute journey to Mass Premier Courts where their practices and skill clinics would take place.
Mass Premier Courts is an awesome 6-court facility where many High School and AAU teams practice and compete in various sessions and tournaments. These multiple-court facilities are found throughout the US and offer an exceptional resource for mass participation in the sport.
The first clinic of the tour would be with Coach Bobby Introini, the Associate Head Coach of local powerhouse Mansfield High School, who ran the boys through a variety of finishing and scoring drills. He also gave them a chance to compete, and both Lewis and Max G showed off their scoring abilities while Ben H played the gritty, hard-nosed defense that defines his game.
After the session the boys stretched and then were driven back to the hotel to shower, before jumping back on the bus to Boston where the first stop was Quincy Market and the incredible selection of food stalls that it has to offer. Most of the boys opted for Philly Cheesteak sandwiches and fries, with other options including noodles, seafood, pizza, sushi, tacos and more.
They had a chance to briefly explore the area before walking up to Washington Street and being let loose on the shops, including the famous Foot Locker “House of Hoops.” Some of the boys returned to the group with brand news pairs of Nikes and Jordans, while others opted to save their spending money for later in the week. It was then on to TD Garden for a brief look at the outside of the Celtics arena, and then to the legendary Bill Russell statue for a classic photo opportunity where Fred attempted to steal the ball from the legendary Hall of Famer.
After a great trip to Boston the boys were driven back to the hotel, where they spent time relaxing in the pool and jacuzzi while BTM Rep Tom grabbed 250 boneless wings and potato wedges from Buffalo Wild Wings for a hearty dinner. Once the boys had gobbled these down they headed back to their rooms, exhausted from the intense morning of basketball and afternoon in the city.
Day 3 – Wednesday
Wednesday began with another round of delicious breakfast and then a team practice at MPC led by Coach D, who worked the boys through both on-ball and help-side defensive principles aligned with his “discipline, desire, defense” philosophy. Ben C showed off his high-level basketball IQ, and the group went from a defensive masterclass to an intense offensive clinic with guest coach David Bostick, the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Becker College.
Coach Bostick pushed the players really hard and had them working at full capacity, with Max M, Lucas and Marc giving everything during the 2-ball dribbling section. After some transition offense to finish, in which Max G found his teammates with some pin-point passing, the boys stretched out and headed to Subway for lunch before showering back at the hotel.
A quick turnaround saw the boys back on the buses to the Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s most successful team the New England Patriots. They learnt about the history of the team, played some interactive games and watched a “pretty good movie” on the Patriot’s journey from being a bottom-dweller to the highest achieving program in the league.
Fred seemed to really enjoy the interactive games, testing his reflexes and hand-speed, while Joe sported the football pads and Patriots kit and envisioned himself as an NFL linebacker. After a photo opportunity overlooking the stadium the group headed back to the hotel for a quick turnaround, and then on to Foxboro Charter School for the tour’s first set of games!
The team’s first game of the tour would be against the very strong Whitman-Hanson High School, a local team that play great team basketball and can really shoot the ball from range. After a warm-up and team talk from Coach D, the boys took the floor and were immediately on the receiving end of an alley-oop dunk from one of Whitman-Hanson’s high risers – welcome to America fellas! Lewis did a great job being aggressive offensively, while Alfie showed strong leadership at both ends and Marc attacked the basket relentlessly. However Whitman-Hanson’s team play and powerful defense was too much for the British boys and they went down 28-40 in their first scrimmage.
The BTM Boys then had a chance to redeem themselves against their fellow Brits, the Russell Hoops team, made up of players mostly from Hertfordshire and Essex. In a tightly contested game, the scoreline was blown apart by the hot shooting of Lucas who erupted in the 2nd half with three consecutive 3’s and BTM ran away with a 42-28 win.
The boys were driven back to the hotel where they relaxed in the pool and jacuzzi, before being treated to one of America’s most highly esteemed burger chains, “Five Guys.” After an exceptional burger and fries they headed back to their rooms to call it a night.
Day 4 – Thursday
Thursday started with another team practice with Coach D, where this time the group worked on some ball movement and offensive positioning. After another great session they were transported back to the hotel to regroup, and then on the road to Cambridge, Massachusetts where they would tour one of the world’s greatest universities, Harvard.
The first stop on the tour was the famous Harvard Business School, where they walked through the grounds and then to the main food plaza to grab lunch at Shake Shack. Some of the boys opted to go for Shake Shack’s famous milkshakes, while others treated themselves to a soft drink (the very first of the tour).
The group then went to meet Tommy, who would be the tour guide for the afternoon, leading the BTM Boys around Harvard’s incredible campus. After learning about the history of the university and what it takes to become a student there, they grabbed a photo opportunity with the famous statue of John Harvard and followed the tradition of touching his foot for good luck.
It was then on to what the boys considered the highlight of the Harvard tour, meeting up with the Men’s Basketball Director of Operations Casey and visiting the incredible Lavietes Pavilion gymnasium, the team’s locker room and the American Football stadium. Feeling fully inspired, the boys were back on the bus to Foxoro where they put on their team jerseys at the hotel and then were sped back to Foxboro Charter School for their 3rd game of the tour.
This evening they would take on Mansfield High School, another exceptional local team who had a strong inside presence and plenty of elite shooters surrounding him. After going down early, the boys stuck with the Americans thanks to some stellar offensive play from Fred and Max G, while Ben H did the intangibles that he brings to every game such as fighting for loose balls and scrapping with bigger players for rebounds.
Lewis was on fire in the 2nd half, while Ben C did a great job creating shots for his teammates. Joe was assigned the task of locking down Mansfield’s premier player, a strong 6’5 inside/outside scorer, and he made his life a lot more challenging in the latter stages of the game. The boys came close, however in the end the Mansfield team were too strong and pulled away to finish with a 51-63 scoreline favouring the Americans. The boys stuck around to support their fellow Brits, the Russell Hoops team, before heading back to the hotel for some dinner and an early night.
Day 5 – Friday
The boys set off on Friday morning for Springfield, Massachusetts, where they would be spending the entire day doing off-court activities and gaining some rest for the upcoming tournament over the weekend.
They arrived at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, an amazing building dedicated to the history of the sport from the early 1900’s all the way through to the modern era. The tour starts with an awe-inspiring film in a mini movie theatre, before opening into a full-size basketball court with multiple side-hoops of various heights where the boys rushed to practice their dunking skills. Most of the boys hung around the 8-foot rim for their mid-air acrobatics, while some launched 3’s on the main court.
After an hour or so enjoying the bottom floor, the NCAA D1 UMass Men’s team began delivering a clinic so the boys headed to the top floor where a variety of stations tested such skills as shooting ability and vertical jump. After spending ample time trying to one-up each other, they left the Hall of Fame and grabbed lunch before being transported to the famous Six Flags Theme and Water Park about 20 minutes away.
The boys hopped out the buses, applied plenty of sun cream and headed into the park, some opting to spend their time on the rollercoasters and others on the water slides. After a few hours of thrills, the boys piled back into the vans where they were driven to America’s famous Golden Corral buffet where they stuffed themselves with a variety of foods and desserts.
During the meal Coach D and Tom ran individual meetings with the players, where they discussed goals, their experience so far and coaches expectations moving forward. Exhausted and with bellies full, the group headed back to Foxboro for some essential sleep in preparation for the following day’s AAU tournament.
Day 6 – Saturday
The boys fuelled up at breakfast and then were driven to Stoughton, Massachusetts and the incredible Dana Barros Basketball Club, a state of the art 5-court facility named after one of Boston’s greatest ever basketball players who had a strong NBA career spanning several seasons. The boys would be competing in the BasketBull ZG Summer Series II, an AAU tournament that featured teams from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New York, Canada and even Switzerland! There were several college coaches checking out the action, with some tremendous talent on display from the elite teams.
Their first game was against Fidelity House, a Boston-based team who were physically imposing and scored both inside and outside. The BTM Boys started strong, with Max M controlling the tempo of the game from the guard position and Max G once again finding various ways to score the ball. While Fidelity House played very physical against the BTM Boys, the lads from the UK refused to back down and scrapped back with equal intensity.
In the 2nd half Fred once again heated up offensively, showing off his great shooting form, and Alfie battled on the defensive end locking up some of Fidelity House’s stronger ball handlers. In the end the BTM Boys were too much for the ballers from Boston, and the “out of towners” won the game 60-55! It was an outstanding performance by the BTM Boys and they were elated at their first win against US competition.
They had a chance to eat some fruit and snack bars, hydrate and chat with Coach D, before taking the floor for Game 2 of the tournament, this time against Blueprint Basketball of Vermont. Blueprint Basketball’s Head Coach and Founder was BJ Robertson, who had played his college basketball at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, the alma mater of BTM Rep Tom.
Blueprint were big, strong, athletic and well-coached, and the BTM Boys found themselves trailing heavily early in the game. Despite the best efforts of Marc, who again attacked the rim aggressively and rebounded well, and another selfless and tough effort from Ben H, the BTM Boys were never in the game and the Vermonters came out on top 61-33. It was a powerful learning experience for the boys, who hadn’t brought the same hype and energy into the 2nd game, which had cost them greatly right from the jump.
After grabbing some lunch at Wendy’s, the boys headed back to the hotel for some chill-out time in the pool and jacuzzi. Later on they were driven to the local “99” restaurant where they enjoyed delicious food and a great atmosphere, before returning to the hotel to sleep.
Day 7 – Sunday
The BTM Boys were back at the Dana Barros Basketball Club bright and early for their third game of the tournament, versus local AAU side the Boston Warriors. It was now playoff action, which meant if the boys didn’t win the game their tournament would be over.
BTM came out the gate all guns blazing, as once again Max M provided a steady hand at the guard position and hit some huge 3’s off the catch and dribble. Lewis continued to show his ability to score the ball, getting to the rim and firing away from downtown to give BTM a 21-11 lead. However the Warriors were a scrappy team that weren’t ready to call it a day, and they came hustling back through forced turnovers and transition scores.
A few injuries had come up for the BTM Boys through the game, which led to some of the players taking on major minutes down the stretch, and the fatigue began to show in the 2nd half. Joe was again a force on defense and worked hard to keep BTM in the game, but the Warriors lived up to their name and fought their way to a 55-50 win which knocked the British boys out of the tournament. It had been a brilliant experience for the boys, taking on intense and aggressive US competition that play a hard and relentless style of basketball.
After returning to the hotel to shower and grabbing some much-needed lunch, the boys were driven to the local mall where they spent a few hours spending their pocket money and hanging out as teenagers do. After getting their shopping fix they were driven to Applebee’s restaurant, where most of them ordered unlimited chicken, shrimp and ribs and left about 5 kilos heavier than when they’d gone in.
Day 8 – Monday
The boys were treated to a very, very well-deserved lay in on the Monday morning, and after arising and leaving their packed suitcases in the luggage room they were driven to the Wrentham Village outlets which features such stores as Nike, Under Armour, Ralph Lauren and many, many more.
After a solid early afternoon of shopping they were driven back to the mall to pick up last-minute items and eat lunch from one of the multiple restaurants in the food court, and then back to the hotel. BTM Rep Tom sat the boys down and discussed some of the key things he’d learnt throughout his playing career, before the End of Tour awards were given out in which Max G received the Coachability award and Fred received the Resilience award.
The boys then jumped on the bus back to Logan International Airport, where they checked in, grabbed one last group photo and sped through security in plenty of time for their evening flight back to London Heathrow.
A huge thanks to all the BTM Boys for the tremendous effort they gave to every practice and game, and for the enthusiasm they showed during all the tour activities. A special thank you to Coach Dan Gayle, one of the hardest-working and most selfless coaches in the game, who’s always willing to go above and beyond for his players. Until next time!
For more information on our Boston tours click here