At Groundwork Player Development, life’s about more than just basketball

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WILMINGTON — In a small warehouse, tucked between body shops on Market Street, the sound of squeaking sneakers and pounding of basketballs echo through the streets. This is the home of Groundwork Player Development, a training facility dedicated to improving the skills – and the lives – of Wilmington’s young athletes.

The company is owned by Wilmington native Tre Whitted, who runs the program with a dedicated staff of coaches.

Whitted grew up playing basketball at Laney High School, where he actually displaced Michael Jordan as the number five all time scorer for the school.

“I think they have me at fifth all time, and MJ is sixth or seventh. I don’t tell people that very often, but it is pretty cool,” he said with a laugh. 

Whitted grew up playing basketball at Laney High School, where he actually displaced Michael Jordan as the number five all time scorer for the school. 'I think they have me at fifth all time, and MJ is sixth or seventh. I don’t tell people that very often, but it is pretty cool,' he said laughing. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)
Whitted grew up playing basketball at Laney High School, where he actually displaced Michael Jordan as the number five all time scorer for the school. ‘I think they have me at fifth all time, and MJ is sixth or seventh. I don’t tell people that very often, but it is pretty cool,’ he said laughing. (Port City Daily photo / CORY MANNION)

Whitted went on to play at Marshall University, after being recruited by the now head coach of North Carolina State University, Kevin Keatts. From there, he played four years of professional basketball, even playing two years in the NBA Developmental League.

After working for various training programs, he decided to pursue his passion. Wanting to give back to the community that raised him, he came home, and Groundwork Player Development was born.

The training facility offers custom training sessions for students of all skill levels, ranging from elementary ball, all the way up to the to the collegiate and pro levels. Groundwork offers intimate workouts that range from one on one sessions, to sessions of up to three or four players at a time, depending on the needs of the students.

Whitted said each of his coaches offer different skill sets, and the program will cater to the needs of the students as they progress.

Succeeding at life

Here, Whitted works with one of his students in one on one session at the Groundwork facility. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY TRE WHITTED)
Here, Whitted works with one of his students in one on one session at the Groundwork facility. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY TRE WHITTED)

Although the main mission of Groundwork is to help these players excel in the sport of basketball, for the staff, it’s about much more than that. Whitted wants to see his students succeed in life, and said that many of the characteristics they work to instill translate to life off the basketball court.

“Groundwork is basically a platform that helps young aspiring athletes achieve their goals. Whether it’s rec. league basketball, middle school, high school, all the way up to the professional level,” Whitted said. “But, it’s bigger than basketball. We try to instill characteristics like discipline, hard work, commitment and mental toughness.”

In addition to being coaches, Whitted said his staff is committed to helping the players in all aspects of their lives, be it on or off the court, as role models.

“I was blessed and fortunate enough to have a lot of inspiration growing up, whether it was family members, or former coaches,” Whitted said. “I know the way it made me feel to have someone care about me and actually take an interest in my life, and I wanted to do the same.”

“My coaching staff and I, we take pride in that, and we consider ourselves life coaches for these kids too,” he said. “A lot of times we’ll have conversations with these kids after the workout via text, just about life in general. About overcoming fears, overcoming adversary, and that’s the real value in it.”

"It’s a lot of mentorship, for the most part, we’re an extension of their coach, an extension of their parents. We’re telling them the exact same things, it’s just coming from a different vessel," he said. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY TRE WHITTED)
“It’s a lot of mentorship, for the most part, we’re an extension of their coach, an extension of their parents. We’re telling them the exact same things, it’s just coming from a different vessel,” he said. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY TRE WHITTED)

Although they are coaches and mentors, the staff take on an almost big brother/big sister roll for their students. And while much of what they teach their athletes is the same thing they might hear from their parents or coaches, Whitted believes the lessons can sometimes stick more coming from Groundwork.

“It’s a lot of mentorship,” he said. “For the most part, we’re an extension of their coach, an extension of their parents. We’re telling them the exact same things, it’s just coming from a different vessel.”

And that mentorship doesn’t end once players leave the program. Whitted says he still has players he began training as freshman in high school who are now playing at the college level, and they still talk on a regular basis.

“That’s the main objective, is to stay in these kid’s lives as far as they choose to go. To always be someone they can talk to, bounce ideas off of, bounce challenges off of, and we can always be there to assist them,” he said.

“And it’s not just the kids who see the value in it, it’s the parents too. They see a lot more than we do behind the scenes, if their kids are enjoying it, then they obviously want to get them back in here,” he added.

Groundwork

But, at the end of the day it comes down to teamwork. Just like basketball, the program couldn’t operate without the work of the staff, who he said dedicate more than just talent to keep Groundwork on it’s feet.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important these coaches are,” Whitted said. “You notice there’s no ‘Tre Whitted,’ or ‘Whitted’ branded stuff here. It’s Groundwork, one brand. And I am blessed to work with some truly incredible people.”

For more information on Groundwork, and for pricing and class information, visit the website at groundworkpd.com. To see the latest Groundwork news, or just to see what it has going on, follow the company on Instagram and Facebook.


Get in touch with Reporter Cory Mannion: follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or send an email at cory@localvoicemedia.com.