KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) A group of East Tennessee teenagers recently returned from a mission trip to the Bahamas, where fun in the sun was the last thing on their minds.
Rick Dunn help start a non-profit organization called Tennessee Fury four years ago, with the mission to use basketball to teach kid life lessons.
"We have an emphasis on strength. Strength of character, strength of mind, strength of body, strength of faith," Dunn explained.
The faith-based AAU basketball organization isn't faith exclusive, though. It focuses on teaching the fundamentals of the game as a way to build the fundamentals in life.
"We are preparing them to be the kind of men and women that will go into their communities, and they'll have a vision for making a difference," Dunn said.
Some of the older members of the group recently took a mission trip to the Bahamas, where it wasn't a chance to relax and have fun in the sun. The group spent their mornings building rock walls to protect from the ocean, then took to the gym in the afternoons to teach local kids the basics of the game.
"The Bahamas is not quite so romantic and wonderful when you're in the sweltering heat moving rocks!" Dunn laughed. "You can see the ocean, but you can't get in it."
Dunn explained how competitive sports are such a great teaching tool for the kids, because it teaches them values through experience.
"It (competitive sports) creates conflict. It creates disappointment. It creates victory and loss. It creates an understanding of limitations and having to depend of other people. And you put all those things together and every practice and every game is a potential learning environment."
Tennessee Fury chose the Bahamas because basketball is extremely popular on the island they visited. More than that, there is only one gym on the island of Eleuthera, but 40,000 people who live there. Basketball is the vehicle Dunn and his team use to pass the skills learned in the game to the people of the island.
But it's also a way for the East Tennessee teens to learn those same life lessons.
"We always say, it's never just about basketball, it's about life. And basketball is just the environment in which we learn life," Dunn said.
To learn more about Tennessee Fury, you can visit their website, TNFury.com, or click the link to the right.