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Youth Challenge team still successful
youth challenge
Pictured are Fort Stewart Youth Challenge team cadets, front row, from left, Jones, Bridley, Coach Garner, Miller, and Martin; and back row, from left, Diop, Williams, Bell, Morgan, Pierce, Duke and Garrett. Photo provided

After a roughly two-year hiatus, the Fort Stewart Youth Challenge team was back to its winning ways taking first place in basketball and other events at the Class 50 Southeastern Invitational. The event was held Nov. 19 in Columbia, South Carolina.

In keeping with the tradition started by the late Ernie Walthour and coach Reginald Castille, current coach SFC James Garner said he’s been teaching young men, and some women, to believe in themselves and follow their dreams, while also coaching them in basketball.

Garner said this was the team’s first invitational tournament since COVID-19 placed things on hold.

“The invitational consists of teams that come from all over the southeastern states in order to compete in sports debate and other things,” Garner said.

In order to get the team ready, Garner set up a game against First Preparatory Christian Academy and local AAU teams.

“It prepared me for last weekend against the other youth challenge programs,” Garner said. The coach said he is proud to see the team is still committed to winning and being successful.

“I’m also grateful for the opportunity to coach and to ensure that the young people are not in jail or not getting in trouble but are out there playing sports and competing in other events and doing something positive,” Garner said.

The coach the Youth Challenge team girls placed first in track and field. They placed first on co-ed volleyball, second in softball, first in drill ceremony, and second in debate. The boys track team placed well in the relay and one-mile races.

Garner said he coached the flag football team in the championship game and they were up 28-0 at halftime. The other team forfeited by not playing the remainder of the game.

Helping him coach the teams was Sgt. Maj. Joseph Mayfield.

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