TFA hoops readies to host City Beautiful Invitational | Observer Preps

The First Academy’s City Beautiful Invitational will take place Dec. 27 to 30. Organizers hope to grow it into one of the nation’s premier prep events.

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  • | 11:45 a.m. December 22, 2017
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The First Academy’s basketball program has hosted holiday tournaments before.

But with the introduction of the private school’s sparkling new on-campus gymnasium last spring — the Cramer Family Field House — and the rising prominence of the program, itself, staff and administration decided to rebrand and re-energize the tournament this fall.

Enter The City Beautiful Invitational — a new holiday tournament that will run from Dec. 27 to 30 and for which The First Academy has high hopes.

“We want to try and build this into, hopefully, a national tournament,” veteran head coach Chris Mayberry said.


The 16-team event features one team from outside Florida — Ohio’s Centerville High Elks — a handful of teams from the Jacksonville and Tampa areas, and several formidable foes from here in Central Florida. 

Even more locally, beyond its hosts, the tournament will feature Olympia High’s boys basketball team.

Players and coaches will attend a luncheon the day before competition begins and hear a message from Keith Tower, a former NBA player who now serves as a pastor.

According to Kristin Summers, the tournament coordinator, one of the motivating factors for the new event is providing a platform of exposure for players in front of college coaches who will be in attendance. The event also will be live-streamed for college coaches to watch remotely.

“(We want) to promote the kids so they can further their basketball (careers) and further their education,” Summers said. “(The administration) thought this would be an incredible opportunity to share the gospel and watch great basketball.”

Like all holiday tournaments, The City Beautiful Invitational will offer a competitive field and give teams a chance to play several games in a short span of time.

“We’re going to get four games in four days, so you learn a lot about your team and how they bounce back from a loss,” Mayberry said. “You kind of get to see where your team is.”

Mayberry’s team will be one of those looking to learn a little more about where it is in its evolution. The Royals (3-3) graduated several blue-chip players from their nationally ranked 2016-17 team, including Wake Forest freshman Chaundee Brown, and are looking to new, young players to step up this season.

“It’s been pretty fun to see them grow,” Mayberry said.

Because of how well the Royals have played in recent years, they have been invited to several of the country’s larger, more prominent tournaments, such as the City of Palms Classic. It is with that experience in mind that The First Academy is hoping to grow The City Beautiful Invitational into a popular and noteworthy event.

For more information on the event, including brackets and a full list of teams in attendance, visit