Fifteen seasons later the AAU organization is going strong and Richards is still at the helm.
The 2009 AAU State Champion Grasshoppers are highly respected by their competitors and well-known across the Southeast. They are considered one of the top AAU programs in the State of Georgia and the oldest AAU basketball program in Griffin.
The Grasshoppers current streak includes making the AAU Nationals 10 consecutive years. Not bad for an independent program that targets the under-privilaged kids in the community who are less fortunate.
They don’t recruit players like most teams do. They welcome all players from beginners to church leagues, recreational leagues and school leagues. The Grasshoppers' philosophy is to allow every child an opportunity to dream.
The Griffin Grasshoppers are one of the largest programs in the City of Griffin and probably the cheapest program because of all they do. They are not affiliated with any other programs that have sponsors. Therefore, the Grasshoppers use various fund raisers to earn money for their travel expenses.
They also spend several hours on the corner in the Griffin washing cars while accepting donations from the community.
“We are truly a genuine community team and our success over the years is credit through their support” said Richards, himself a Griffinite who played with the same teams at Griffin High School as “Jumpin” Joe Ward.
The Grasshoppers accomplishments on the court have captured the eyes of tournament directors across the country and they are inviting the Grasshoppers to participate in major exposure events. The team have accepted to participate in five major events for 2010.
They will start out with the LeBron James Classic in Akron, Ohio; Michael Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte, N.C.; Kentucky Hoopfest in Louisville, Ky.; Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga. and the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fl.
“Financially, it’s going to be tough to raise several hundreds of dollars for travel expenses to five different states in the next four months, but we must attend them since the requested us to represent the City of Griffin,” said Richards.
The team will also participate in various local tournaments as a way of fine tuning for the major events.
Players from the Grasshoppers are reaping all the benefits of their success.
Several colleges to include Division-1 coaches are constantly calling Richards willing to offer scholarships and requesting certain players to attend their school. Due of the large volume of coaches requests, Richards conducted his 1st Annual Unsigned Seniors Showcase a few weeks ago and all of his players used their athletic skills during drills in the presence of more than 50 college coaches who were in attendance at the local high school.
According to Richards, “It was a HUGE success! Several of the players were offered scholarships immediately after the event.”
This was no surprise to Richards who currently has one of the top ranked players in the State of Georgia on his roster.
Now several requests are in for Richards to conduct a similar showcase for unsigned senior girls who remain from Class of 2010. Richards doesn’t mind and feels this will be a good opportunity for his daughter Nala Richards — a sophomore on the varsity squad at Jonesboro High School — to see what’s expected of her on the next level if she remains interested in being a basketball player.
The Griffin Grasshoppers also has a new website. Please feel free to browse on www.GriffinGrasshoppers.ihigh.com for all of their latest activities. The Griffin Grasshoppers Association is a Non-Profit Organization with a 501(c)-3. For more about the Griffin Grasshoppers contact Richards (404) 402-4951.