High School Features

John Turner Classic Kicks Off Day 1

Satasha Kostelecky (10, Decatur) defends Nnedi Okammor (19, Hebron) in the first match of JTC

The John Turner Classic (JTC), one of Texas’ premier high school pre-season tournaments, kicked off Thursday with an opening ceremony in which Ebony Nwanebu spoke to the around-1,000 athletes.

This year, one of JTC’s initiatives to raise money is surrounding mental health, a cause close to home given that one team in attendance down the road from the host Pearland HSSanta Fe, as well as many in the community, were affected by the school shooting in May of this year.

Nwanebu, a Lovejoy HS alumna, spoke of her own mental health struggles as a student athlete when she first went to University of Southern California, and then transferred closer to home to the University of Texas. She related to the athletes in the Pearland gym by offering the admission that it is okay to struggle, and it is more than okay to ask for help, and gave advice for someone who might find herself in a position similar to Nwanebu.

When she and the opening ceremony was finished, players lined up to snap a photo with Nwanebu, waved their new bright orange Whataburger (a sponsor) mini-towels, and headed to one of their nine gymnasiums to begin play.

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