May 28, 2013
Former Tennessee basketball All-Americans Dale Ellis and Reggie Johnson share several similarities. Paramount among those similarities are their passion for UT, their desire to help underprivileged and at-risk youth and their love of powerboat racing.
All three will be on full display this weekend, as some of the world's fastest watercraft gather on the Tennessee River near the UT campus for the first event of the Powerboat Super League's 2013 season June 1-2.
Admissions is free, and action begins each day at 9 a.m. next to Calhoun's on the River. In addition to the action on the water, the riverside spectator area will feature booths for vendors, sponsors and local community organizations.
Speeds at PSL events accelerate to as high as 120 mph, and ever-changing water and wind conditions make each lap unique and different.
That is part of the draw for Johnson and Ellis - who starred on the hardwood for the Vols in the late 1970s and early 1980s, respectively.
The duo played an instrumental role the last time Knoxville hosted a PSL event - Independence Day weekend in 2000 - when an estimated crowd of 40,000 attended. Ellis and Johnson have been working to bring the sport back to Knoxville ever since.
This weekend's event gives the Big Orange tandem a perfect opportunity to entertain and educate underprivileged and at-risk youth. Both men head philanthropic organizations that aim to benefit such children.
The Dale Ellis Foundation serves disadvantaged youth, promotes higher education and provides scholarship assistance, with a focus on literacy as the foundation for success. The organization attempts to intercede in the lives of young children, armed with the belief that literacy and education are life-lasting gifts that empower everyone to improve the socio-economic conditions for themselves and their communities at large.
Johnson is the founder and chief executive officer of RJohnson Community Services, Incorporation (RJCS), which was created with the sole purpose of empowering youth to reach their full potential.
Ellis and Johnson each plan to host a group of children from their respective organization this weekend in an attempt to expose the children to something they might otherwise never experience.
Also expected to join Ellis and Johnson at this weekend's event are former Vol hooper Tony White, longtime NBA assistant coach Elston Turner and former American-Israeli professional basketball player LaVon Mercer.
Ellis and Johnson each were first-round NBA Draft picks following their careers at Tennessee. Johnson was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in 1980 and played seven seasons in the NBA. Ellis was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1983 draft and enjoyed a 19-year NBA career.
Both now reside in their home state of Georgia.
The Powerboat Super League is the oldest series for outboard tunnel boats in the world. For more information about the league, visit www.aprsuperleague.com