West Orange basketball coach to start church team

Wendell Coates Jr. wants to be a positive influence on young men through The Kingdom Church of Orlando’s new team.

Wendell Coates Jr. is excited to see how the men’s church basketball team will change the players’ lives for the better.
Wendell Coates Jr. is excited to see how the men’s church basketball team will change the players’ lives for the better.
Photo by Andrea Mujica
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The Kingdom Church of Orlando has formed a new men’s basketball team as well as a basketball league that will involve many churches in the Orlando area. 

Behind this project is Wendell Coates Jr. — who currently serves as a youth community director for TKC and the nonprofit organization Eight Waves located in Winter Garden. 

“I just woke up with that idea,” he said. “Basketball is what I like to do, so I always try to incorporate basketball. I see that we have a lot of men here, and it’s a lot of guys that I used to play ball with that go to this church, and I didn’t know. So I was like, ‘If we start a league, we can play against other churches, and we can attract people who normally wouldn’t go to church. We can start a fellowship on the court that you wouldn’t know where that would lead to.”

The team will welcome any men ages 18 and up who want to participate and — potentially — will practice once a week and compete on Sundays. Through participating in the team and the league, Coates hopes to cultivate a few life traits in all athletes. 

“Discipline, patience, teamwork and respect,” he said. “Those are the things that sports teach you, so those are the things that I hope they will be able to grasp through what we want to do.” 


Coates landed his current position at TKC last year, after his longtime friend and TKC Pastor David Jacques mentioned it to him. 

“I was a promoter for (The Beacham in downtown) Orlando,” Coates said. “I would attract crowds — that’s how I got paid. I was very successful at it, but everything comes to an end. (Jacques) presented an opportunity for me to leave the club and work for the church full time, but I couldn’t do any more clubs. That was hard for me. Eventually, I just prayed about it, and I’m done with the clubs. It’s over. Once I got a job here, I got another job and another one … it started to happen like a chain effect. That’s what made me think I’m where I’m supposed to be.” 

Coates, 34, was born and raised in Winter Garden, and even though he moved to Clermont during his teenage years, he still considers Winter Garden his home and serves the city through community outreach and his nonprofit, Global Not Local. 

“Just working in the community and doing that community work for probably the past eight years,” he said. “I always stay consistent doing something for my community.” 

While serving through TKC and through GNL, Coates hopes to share his love of the sport of basketball while also guiding all who come to the team to a better life.

“Basketball is my life,” he said. “I kind of look at it that for every hour I keep them (the youth and young adults) on the court, that’s an hour I keep them off the streets, doing something that keeps them occupied and something to look forward.” 

Coates believes nowadays it is not common for children to be brought up to go to church on a regular basis, so through this new basketball team and his position at the church aspires to help many to find God and a life of fellowship. 

“A lot of kids were really not brought up to come to church in this new era, so my job is to come out and meet them wherever they are and be there for them first and foremost, in whatever need they may have,” he said. “Then, influence them to me and give the church a try … more of myself giving my testimony to these kids.” 

The teams names will be their respective churches names. Even though there is no name for the league yet — it is still in the brainstorm process — shirts are already being ordered, and Coates wants his players to take away one thing from playing in at the league and on the new TKC team. 

“Fellowship,” he said. “There is so much going on around us that it is very exciting that you will see a lot of men getting along in one space.” 



Andrea Mujica

Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.

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