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Flite meets the public

Players balancing jobs, basketball

Despite poor weather canceling its season opener, the Fort Wayne Flite semiprofessional basketball team still introduced itself to the public Sunday afternoon.

The Central Basketball Association opened its season this weekend, but the Flite’s game against the River City Panthers from Peoria, Ill., was canceled because of weather.

The team, instead, played a scrimmage against local rec players Sunday at the Summit on Rudisill Boulevard.

Rod Wilmont, a former IU player and assistant coach at Canterbury, has taken on the challenge of coaching the team.

“It’s a great opportunity for some of these guys if they want to continue their career,” Wilmont said. “The players are mostly from the local area and played in high school and maybe played in college for a year and for whatever reason came back. Some of these guys are young. 21, 23, 24. … They have a lot more years they could play.”

Wilmont’s goal in choosing local players was to establish a local fan base.

“We had tryouts for a couple weeks and a lot of guys from different areas were coming in,” Wilmont said. “We basically made it a local thing so we can get a fan base because many people are familiar with their faces from high school and colleges.”

Wilmont helped start a summer league in 2013 based out of Canterbury High School. The league played every Wednesday and Sunday and featured 14 teams from around the area.

Anthony Johnson was named the MVP for the summer league. He is one of the members of the Flite who is trying to balance working a full-time job and playing basketball.

“This is very important to us,” Johnson said.

“It’s hard working a full-time job and going to the gym every day and you have families and kids, but we love it so it’s what we want to do.

The CBA games will be played on the weekends to accommodate for work schedules.

“We try not to have to travel too much,” Flite organizer Bennie Lewis said. “The schedule fits two games in per road trip. We’re hitting St. Louis and Peoria next weekend.”

The league is scheduled to play every weekend from now until May, with breaks for the NCAA tournament and Easter weekend.

The Flite’s first home game is March 15 against Chattanooga Rail Runners.