In 2013 Matt Brush was asked to coach a local 6th grade travel basketball team and quickly learned a harsh reality of the travel system: if kids couldn’t pay then they couldn’t play, and that meant many of the most talented young players in the community couldn’t be part of these elite travel basketball teams. And, what’s more, without that access and exposure, these sidelined kids would never gain the skills they needed to compete on high school and college teams.

Realizing this staggering gap, Coach Brush committed himself to creating an elite and inclusive travel team experience that left no child behind. He dedicated himself to tearing down any and all economic barriers standing between young athletes who couldn’t afford the high costs associated and the teams they desperately wanted to be a part of.

A year later he had the opportunity to do just that: in 2014 Coach Brush was asked to expand his program to include a local 8th grade travel basketball team. He accepted and immediately removed financial barriers if a child couldn’t pay…all travel costs, tournament fees and equipment costs for the year-long program. With socio-economic barriers removed the team flourished. His personal sacrifice served as a lofty example to his players who grew to treat one another with great respect regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds as a result. Participants still need to “pay to play” by delivering good grades, having good attitudes and committing themselves to one another and to themselves.

Thunder Struck has fast become a go-to for some of the best young athletes in Florida. No matter their background, family circumstances or financial means, every player has an opportunity to hit the court and, even, compete with teams from around the country. These young men recognize the opportunity they’ve been given and the investment Coach Brush has made in each of them. In return they play their hearts out each and every game and, more importantly, are motivated to excel at home and in the classroom, setting the groundwork for greater success on the court and in life.