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All Star Extravaganza Champions District Youth

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‘Extravaganza’ Champions District Youth

 BY CHRISTIAN KLOC
 When Marvin Tucker graduated from high school, he just wanted a job and a car. Even though three of his five siblings went to college, Mr. Tucker said he didn’t want to use his parents’ money on a college education for himself. “On my behalf, it was being real with myself,” the 54-year-old said.Now, decades later, Mr. Tucker works to open students’ eyes to the possibilities of higher education. By bringing student athletes and parents together for a week of events every Spring, Mr. Tucker hopes to broaden high school students’ post-graduation opportunities. Mr. Tucker said his participation in two conferences held by the National Alliance of Black School Educators inspired his efforts to find ways to increase District students’ prospects after high school.Supported by the TCM Community Builders Foundation, the “One City All-Star Extravaganza” will take place April 21-27 at Gallaudet University.Mr. Tucker is the event’s executive director.Mr. Tucker explained that the Extravaganza assembles student athletes nominated by coaches from schools across D.C.Encouraging a friendly rivalry, the tournament matches public school students against those who attend District private, charter or technical schools.“There’s always going to be a rivalry,” Mr. Tucker said of the set-up. “The biggest thing is that we’re bringing the city together.” The games gather students who typically only hear about each other and would otherwise not cross paths, he said.According to Mr. Tucker, this year’s event will gather 16 basketball players, 80 soccer players, and 280 cheerleaders for friendly competition.Mr. Tucker said the event began in 2008 as the All City Bowl, a football tournament organized by the D.C. Coaches Association. Now, Mr. Tucker said the event offers soccer, basketball and cheerleading as ways to expose students to the possibilities of higher education.Mr. Tucker said the week-long Extravaganza begins Saturday, April 21 with a parents’ “summit.”The summit provides information to parents about athletic injuries, nutrition, standardized tests and other educational issues.Mr. Tucker added that corporate representatives will be present to discuss scholarship opportunities.Mr. Tucker said the next event is a kick-off dinner for the student athletes, featuring appearances and speeches by local politicians. Students will also get to meet representatives from the event’s corporate sponsors.The following day, Mr. Tucker said the student athletes take a trip to the Children’s National Medical Center to visit patients and deliver books and other donated items. Mr. Tucker said last year’s outing gave the students perspective. “It teaches you humility,” he said.Throughout the week, matches and games are scheduled after school hours at Gallaudet University.

Mr. Tucker said there is a lineup of girls’ and boys’ soccer matches and basketball games where some of the District’s best players go against one another.There will also be a cheerleading competition amongst seven high school teams and seven middle school teams, including an exhibition by the award-winning Cougars squad from the Harry Thomas Sr. Recreation Center. Although the cheerleading event is currently the only opportunity for middle school students to participate, Mr. Tucker said it is important to reach out to students even before they reach high school. “A lot of the losses of our students happen during the middle school years,” he said.In addition to bringing a cross-section of D.C communities together, Mr. Tucker said the event gives recruiters forcollege athletic programs a place to scout for local talent.

According to Mr. Tucker, five students playing in the girls’ basketball tournament received college scholarships at the event last year.As Mr. Tucker thinks about future Extravaganzas, he said he hopes to host the event at a different college each year. He said many kids never get to see a college campus so their participation in on-campus sporting events offers them a valuable experience. While Mr. Tucker never wanted to spend his parents’ money on a college education for himself, he wants to open to door for others to walk through.