by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier

Losing was more difficult than winning for the Obama Academy Middle School girls basketball team. They’ve won 20 in a row in league play over the past two years.

But victories on the court aren’t the only thing that measures the success of the program that won a boys league during the Ammons Recreation Center’s winter league.

CHAMPIONS—The Obama Middle School basketball team, winner of two consecutive middle school girls’ City League championships were honored at a banquet organized by their coach and boosters.

“We just wanted to be able to show the girls that we are very proud of their accomplishments,” Obama head coach Ruth Walker said.

To top it all off, the team walked away with its second consecutive middle school girls’ City League title when they defeated Sterrett, 46-19, in front of a packed Allderdice gym.

The March 16 event was held at the Harmer House in Cheswick, PA. There were close to 70 guests in attendance. Each of them received a door prize and gifts that were sponsored by Walker and other donors.

People might have been complaining about the amount of things that we poured on them that night,” Walker added. “It was so much!”

Nick Futules, co-owner of the venue, is the District 7 representative of Allegheny County Council. He served as the keynote speaker and head chef of the event.

“I wore many hats that evening,” Futules said. “But it was truly worthwhile for the sake of these talented youth.”

Futules is an experienced restaurant owner and studied Culinary Arts in college.

He, along with county council representative Bill Robinson who represents the District 10 area, served as the event’s sponsors. They made sure that each of the Obama players, coaches, and team managers received a proclamation from the County for their overall success.

“We had to take some time out to acknowledge not only their achievement on the court, but also off,” Futules added. “Academics are number one for us at county council.”

Walker also honored her kids for academic achievement.

“I’d say like 98 percent of our kids were recognized for having made the honor roll or better,” she said.

Each girl that participated received a unique-looking silver trophy with a female basketball player that is dribbling over an orange-colored basketball.

The Obama parents, in gratitude, presented Coach Walker with a plaque that was purple for the team’s color, recognizing all of her accomplishments.

“The effort that Coach Walker put into this event and that she puts into the team, as a whole, is phenomenal,” Futules said.

In addition to candy bar party favors that contained three photographs, the eighth-grade players received personalized ‘memory books’. And along with the County proclamations, the Pittsburgh Public Schools provided certificates of achievement for the girls, who also received varsity-style letters.

“These girls are so worthy of all of this,” Walker said. “They have done so much. And in this, we hope that they realize that they will continue to gain their rewards if they continue this level of commitment to success over their lives.”

“These efforts don’t go unnoticed by these youth,” Futules said. “These are memories that can last a lifetime. I don’t think they’ll ever forget it.”

(Malik Vincent can be reached at or on Twitter @malikvincent.)

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