Five Rising Stars will jam Amsterdam trip into a busy summer

Players, coach go overseas later this month


    When the W.V. Rising Stars, a collection of area basketball players 15 and younger, compete in today’s Triple S Harley-Davidson Summer Jam Fest, at the WVU Recreation Center, it’s safe to say it won’t be a culture shock for them.
    While they will be competing against players from up and down the East Coast as well as Canada, the traveling team has already competed in tourneys this summer in Cleveland, Columbus and Baltimore.
    For four young men on the Stars — London Ryan, Jay Fletcher, Terrell Rembert and Chris Payton — culture shock could happen soon after the Jam Fest.
    Ryan, Fletcher and Rembert, rising sophomores at Morgantown High, and Payton, a rising sophomore at University High, have been selected to play in an international U.S.-sanctioned tournament in Amsterdam, Netherlands, starting July 22.
    The foursome is now part of a growing nationwide organization known as People to People Sports Ambassadors, founded in 1956 by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
    The program was set up to give our nation’s young athletes a chance to meet and compete against athletes of other nations. Besides basketball, the program holds competitions in sports such as swimming and track and field.
    “If people get together, so, eventually, will nations,” Eisenhower said in 1956.
    The Morgantown contingent will eventually meet up with players from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and just about everywhere else in the country to play in tournaments against European competition, in Amsterdam.
    “Oh gosh, they’re excited,” said Bob Fletcher, Rising Stars coach and Jay’s father. “The closer they get to the day, the worse they get. They can’t stop talking about it.”
    The four were recommended to the program after competing in AAU tourneys this past summer.
    “I’m not really sure who it was that saw them play,” Bob Fletcher said. “Somebody saw them play. It was about this time last year when we got a letter in the mail.”
    Each player had to raise $4,000 in order to pay the tuition costs for the tournament, which also features an instructional camp and dinners with the international players as well as a gift exchange.
    “It’s a chance to meet new people and to see and experience different things,” said Valerie Fletcher, Jay’s mother. “They’ll get a chance to exchange e-mails and interact with people from all over the world. It’s something they’ll never forget.”
    The players raised the money through contributions from their families, as well as some sponsorships from businesses in town. Morgantown High, as well as the Book Exchange, donated MHS and WVU shirts and memorabilia to exchange with the foreign players.
    The players will return to the States on Aug. 1, and if they are selected among the top players in their age groups, they will receive a tuition waver for another tournament in China next summer.
Nepa to swim in Holland
    Angela Nepa, a freshman-to-be at Morgantown High, will take part in an international swimming meet outside Amsterdam as part of the People-to-People program.
    Nepa, 14, holds numerous state age-group swimming records.
    She will leave on July 21 and spend 10 days in Europe.
Ron Rittenhouse/The Dominion Post W.V. Rising Stars Terrell Rembert (left), Chris Payton, coach Bob Fletcher, London Ryan and Jay Fletcher will compete in Europe.