Evolution Basketball Training is 10 year old today! Founded on April 21st, 2008…
10 years and 10 really cool factors that you probably don’t know that got us here…
Alex Harris, the founder of Evolution, actually started “training” players back when he was in high school in the early-mid 90’s. The concept and idea for Evolution has been familiar to him long before it was formalized.
The first “warehouse” idea didn’t come directly from Alex. It was actually an accident that has flourished. Alex started out training players on outdoor courts or any gym he could sneak into. One day, the parents of a player he trained who owned a painting company with a very small warehouse offered him the opportunity to use their space. They had made a tiny court in the warehouse for their daughter to practice, but since she rarely used it Alex was able to have it 24/7 and build his client base. He stayed there for a little over 3 years before getting his first real warehouse of his own.
The first trainer hired on was Stanley Babbit who is still with Evolution today. Alex and Stanley first met in 1990 when Alex was the manager of the Freshman Basketball team at Robinson High School where Stanley was a player. As a 7th grader, Alex was taller than the entire team and because of that the whole team gave him a hard time… except for Stanley. Turns out Stanley had just moved to the area from Germany so he was nice to everyone since he didn’t have many friends yet! Just shows it pays to be nice to people!
Though Evolution has a reputation for putting players into college, most people don’t know how it all got started. We now have over 200 players who have gone on to impressive college careers in D1, D2, & D3. Our first college player was Andrew Godwin (Fairfax High School) who played at Valley Forge Christian College, which, at the time, was part of the NCCAA. No, not the NCAA, the National Christian College Athletic Association. He had an awesome career and experience there as his team made it to the NCCAA Final 4 in three out of his four years.
As time went on, the players who originally trained with us began graduating from college and looking for jobs. In total, Evolution has had 10 of it’s players come back to work as trainers. This is a great compliment to Evolution, as well as a great asset to our staff as they know our system and expectations extremely well. Also having these former players, now turned trainers, provides amazing credibility that the system works and provides the success that the players training with us today are looking for.
Half-Lifers… It’s a strange phrase, but a really cool concept. We have quite a few of our kids who started training with Evolution so young that they have spent half of their life with us. Or some that have come back to work as trainers after college. For example, Ben Ayanian started training in the 4th grade as a 9 year old and now that he’s 18 he’s been with us for half of his life! Fellow half-lifers include Aaron Young, Caleigh Patterson, Johnny Corish, and Hunter Dickinson, not to mention a few others who are really close to joining the club.
Almost all of our staff has a really cool connection to Evolution. Doug Howard played at Flint Hill in high school, went on to play at William & Mary, and then to coach at Salisbury University as a Grad Assistant. While at Flint Hill, Alex Harris did a few team training sessions and remembered Doug and his leadership of the team very well. Once Doug got to Salisbury, he was coaching under Josh Merkel who is one of Alex’s closest friends. Alex spent nearly a year and a half “recruiting” Doug and trying to convince him to stop coaching and join Evolution full time. All of those recruiting efforts really paid off because Doug is now the Vice President of Evolution Basketball and one of our top trainers.
To say that we come from humble beginnings is an understatement. When Evolution was founded we had “old Merrifield” and that’s it. For those of you who don’t know, that was our first warehouse in Merrifield that we leased. It was 1,800 square feet, of ghetto-delightfulness (yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word). It didn’t have running water or a bathroom, when it rained the roof leaked, when it was humid the floor got slick, when it snowed we may not have been able to get the parking lot plowed. Our neighbors were landscapers, movers, and even a guy who converted cooking grease into natural fuel for cars (when he drove by it smelled like french fries). Our clients DEFINITELY didn’t come for the facility, yet we kept growing. That is what Evolution is all about; the people, the training, and the relationships. We were in that space for 8 and a half years and when we finally moved out and got our new Merrifield facility, a few of the kids who grew up in old Merrifield cried (literally).
Though we are based in Northern VA and we are known for our training in this area, Evolution has an amazing international connection. For starters, we have spent the past 5 years helping develop basketball in Turks & Caicos. There are players who have come to our camps in TCI that are now playing college ball in England, Canada, and the US. There are several others who have developed enough to come to the US for High School and are on track for a college education and playing career. Evolution’s trainers have spent time working with players throughout Europe, Israel, Palestine, China, India, and several other countries. We have also had groups through Sports United with the State Department come to us for training at our facilities from Argentina, Peru, Israel, Palestine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
It’s hard to estimate exactly, but in the past 10 years approximately 30,000 players have trained with Evolution in some capacity. It’s hard to believe that many players have had the opportunity to experience Evolution, but we feel fortunate every day to make an impact on each and every one of them. As we continue to grow we look forward to the next 10 years and next 30,000 players lives we can change!