A 2006 Lafayette HS graduate and now only 27 years old the energetic and passionate Donovan Bridgeforth has already compiled an impressive basketball resume not only as a player but as a trainer, mentor and one of Virginia's most respected coaches. Bridgeforth starred at Jamestown High School and Lafayette High School in Williamsburg before gaining several DI offers. He had plans to play for the University of South Carolina, but ran into a roadblock due to academic requirements. However, he wound up playing collegiately at DIII Albright College in Pennsylvania and later a short professional overseas career. Upon his return to the 757 Bridgeforth immediately became active in his community in an effort to give back. He has become one of the state's most influential AAU figures beginning that effort as the Director of Basketball Operations with the Virginia Venom boy's basketball program where he also coached the Venom’s top 17U & 18U teams and helped a number of players earn college scholarships including some at the DI level. Currently as the Director of Team Loaded 757, Coach Bridgeforth put together a number of teams in various age groups and quickly transformed them into a major player in AAU Basketball, his 15U team rose quickly to the ranks of one of the top AAU teams in the country in that age group! His lengthy resume includes his work as a skills trainer. Coach Bridgeforth founded Dreamchasers Training (https://dreamchasers.co/) which consists of individual basketball skills training from Coach Bridgeforth and his staff of top basketball clinicians. In addition to individual training sessions, they conduct basketball camps and have partnered with the Williamsburg Parks and Recreation Department conducting skills clinics for boys and girls within the community. His efforts included the annual Dreamchasers Stop the Violence Basketball Tournament at James City County Recreation Center. Two of Coach Bridgeforth's close friends were murdered months apart in 2011, both victims of gun violence. It was enough to motivate Coach Bridgeforth to rally his resources and bring awareness to the rise in violent crime. Coach Bridgeforth sees his calling not only as a basketball coach and mentor but as an ambassador of sorts, pulling his resources together in an effort to promote a positive environment within his community. The event brings together top basketball talent in the 757 in both middle and high school, includes live music and prize giveaways in an effort to promote brotherhood. Bridgeforth jumped into the coaching ranks first serving several seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater Jamestown HS. His first head coaching stint also found him coaching girls at Walsingham Academy where he took a program that had only won 8 games in the two seasons prior to his arrival and he promptly turned the program into a winner. In 2012 he guided the Lady Trojans to a 15-5 mark and a berth in the Virginia Independent Schools Division II state tournament. Coach Bridgeforth took his winning style to Williamsburg Christian Academy and quickly transformed them into a winner. In two seasons he compiled a record of 60-7 while guiding the Eagles to back-to-back state championship game appearances. In 2014-2015 he earned Coach of the Year honors after his WCA girl's team won both the Metro Conference Regular season and Conference tournament titles!

In June of 2015 Coach Bridgeforth was tabbed as the new head boys basketball coach at Jamestown HS where again he was tasked with turning around a struggling program. Jamestown had finished 8-15 in the season prior to the hiring of Coach Bridgeforth and he wasted no time changing the culture of a program that had become complacent with mediocrity. On his hiring, Jamestown HS Athletic Director Kenny Edwards told Williamsburg's Rev City Sports 'We are very excited to have Donovan Bridgeforth join us as our new head boys basketball coach, he brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and a passion for helping student-athletes to succeed on and off the court. His work ethic, combined with his long-range vision for Jamestown Boys' Basketball, makes him an excellent addition to our athletic staff.' Coach Bridgeforth again wasted no time! The Eagles started the season 14-1, rolled off 13 consecutive wins at one point finishing the regular season with a record of 16-4 and making it to the Conference 18 finals! Coach Bridgeforth's Jamestown team accomplished what months earlier would have been the unthinkable advancing to the Group 4A Eastern Region playoffs where they lost a heartbreaker to eventual state runner up Lake Taylor HS. The turnaround at Jamestown was quick and the players bought in not only to the system but they saw the passion and love in their new coach's approach. 'We have more heart than anybody in the district, I believe,' junior guard Kevin Greene told Rev City Sports. 'Coach Bridgeforth installed toughness and heart in us, and we just ride out for each other. It's all about brotherhood. He really fights for us, and we want to fight back.' His influence on his player's at each stop has been powerful. His philosophy is built around his belief that basketball teams win games; families win championships! Let's meet this fast rising coaching star and community leader!

Q: Coach you have enjoyed great success as a player who went on to play at the college level and as a coach in both high school and AAU. How has your playing career molded you as a coach'

A: It has helped mold me tremendously. I coach with the same intensity and passion that I played with. I have also adopted the same mentality as when I played. I want to outwork my opponent for victories.

Q: You've had immediate success as both a girls coach and boys coach at the high school level. How different is coaching the boys after several seasons coaching girls' Has your approach changed at all'

A: I have always coached boys during AAU so it wasn't difficult for me to make any transition. My approach does not change; it is the same whether it be boys or girls. I consistently push the athlete to bring the best out of them. I know everybody loves winning regardless of gender.

 

Q: The term 'rebuilding' is not in your vocabulary. You have taken three struggling high school programs and turned them around in your first season! What's your secret'

A: My main focus is just giving God all the glory. I love to instill confidence and having my players play for a bigger purpose than just self.

Q: Tell us about your coaching philosophy which seems to be built a lot around the team being more like a family'

A: My philosophy is to play with drive and purpose. To be tough at all times and not to slack, be disciplined and aggressive without exception or excuse.

Q: You are obviously very active within your community and giving back is something that is very important to you. I mentioned earlier the tragic deaths of two of your close friends in 2011 and the concern of rising crime within not only your community but throughout the country. You expend a lot of resources, influence and energy in an effort to enlighten your community through basketball and mentorship about the need for compassion toward one another. It's kind of become a calling for you hasn't it'

A: I think the Lord puts us here for many reasons, and I am just trying to fulfill his purpose.

Q: I want to talk about your upcoming AAU season but you had great success quickly turning around the Jamestown HS basketball program and are developing some talented young men in what looks like a program not only on the rise but that could become a Group 4A power for years to come under your direction. Can you briefly talk about some of the kids like Kevin Greene, Diamantae Brown and the Wang twins (Evan and Mason) who were so key in your success this season at Jamestown HS and your expectation for next season'

A: The Wang twins are some of the best basketball players in the state. We definitely will rely on them to finish what they started last season. Diamantae and Kevin are 2 rising stars and I expect them to flourish next season. 2016 will be an outstanding year for us, we plan on piggy backing on what we created for our program last year and building on that platform to be even more formidable next season.

Q: You're the Director of Team Loaded 757 and you brought a lot of teams into the mix and assembled some of the area's top high school coaches to help you. You enjoyed great success at every level last year and your Team Loaded 757 program has quickly become a major player in AAU. How difficult a sell was that particularly in the Hampton Roads community that for so long has only known the Boo Williams program' You obviously did a wonderful job and assembled some of the area's top young talent.

A: It's definitely difficult to bring in some of the best players in the area when you have such a great program beside you. Boo Williams is a phenomenal program; however, we embrace the challenge of creating teams that can compete with them. For me, it's all about the right fit…..everybody can't play in our program. We have to get guys that aren't afraid to work, and want to be turned into champions. Guys like Travis Fields, Donald Hicks, and Bryan Hart among many others, rose to the challenge.

Coach we wish you continued success in all your endeavors. We're very fortunate to have you as one of our community leaders and strong influences here in the 757! Thank you for your time.