Brian Hill

Dave Edwards coaches the Bulldogs, a basketball team in East Austin. The goal of the Bulldogs program is to support economically disadvanaged children and enstill values.
Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Beyond box scores, beyond accolades and beyond championships, sports have the ability to bring people from all backgrounds together to focus on a common goal. More than anything else, sports have the power to evoke unrealized strength from people and change them for the better.

Dave Edwards recognized this as a boy in Erie, Pa., when he helped his father coach soccer teams composed largely of inner city and international kids. Edwards took this experience to heart and in 2007 founded Bulldog Basketball, a program for fourth and fifth graders at Overton Elementary School, located in East Austin and where he coaches physical education. Now entering its sixth season, the program focuses on helping economically disadvantaged children, many of whom have behavioral issues in school, learn life skills to help them succeed as adults.

“This is a pretty tough area of Austin, as tough as Austin gets,” Edwards said. “Many kids are unmotivated and struggle with behavior, struggle with academics.”

Although Bulldog Basketball has been successful on the court, winning the city championship in 2009 and again in 2011, its overall goal is to instill in kids a mindset to help them overcome their difficult situations and give them a way to channel their energy in a positive direction.

“It gives them something to believe in, because a lot of kids don’t have anything to believe in,” Edwards said. “They go home and they see poverty and they see drugs and they see alcohol.”

In addition to discipline, Edwards pointed to solidarity as a key to Bulldog Basketball.

“In our program we say five fingers, one fist,” Edwards said. “Individually, you’re easily broken. Life can break you down. But man, when you come together with others and you come together as a fist, you can’t break a fist.”

With teamwork and perseverance at its core, Edwards said basketball helps kids enjoy life to its fullest.

“Basketball’s something that you can use not only to get a college education, but also to get wonderful experiences out of life that equate to hopefully a more successful life,” Edwards said.

In order to keep the program running smoothly, Edwards relies on a board composed of close friends and colleagues, including his wife, Brittany.

“A huge reason Bulldog Basketball was founded was to provide these kids with a framework for success, both on and off the court,” Brittany Edwards said. “We purposefully choose kids that are struggling academically because they need the extra tutoring and extra focus.”

Another program supporter is Brian Hill, who received his master’s in educational administration from UT in August. An assistant coach and board member from 2008 to 2011, Hill believes Bulldog Basketball is vital because it gives children opportunities to overcome their difficult positions in life.

“Most kids aren’t going to go on to play in the NBA, so the fact that he’s teaching them skills that will allow them to acquire jobs and start a family and become a viable member of society is more important,” Hill said.

Although he is no longer involved in the program, Hill said he learned a major life lesson during his time there.

“Bulldog Basketball showed me the difference you can make in a kid’s life, no matter what background they’re coming from,” Hill said. “They don’t just learn how to shoot a free throw or a layup. They’re learning to contribute to society and to go after any dreams they have.”

Jose Martinez Sr., whose son is entering his second year in the program, echoed Hill’s praise of the program. Martinez said his son’s demeanor has changed drastically since he joined the team.

“His attitude has changed, his self-discipline has changed, his level of responsibility has gone way up,” Martinez said. “Overall, it’s been a 100 percent turnaround from before he entered the program.”

Bulldog Basketball has also had a remarkable affect on Martinez as a father.

“Before Jose entered the program we didn’t spend much time together because I was always working and worrying about money,” Martinez said.

“Since then though, I’ve been able to spend more one-on-one time with him by playing basketball and doing things I normally wouldn’t have done. It has made me a better parent.” 

Saturday morning, after the party has ended, the drinks have been emptied and the hangovers have begun, Brian Hill and a couple of his friends arrive at the house of a local band and immediately hand them a bag of Torchy’s breakfast tacos. As the bandmates continue to look on in amazement at their breakfast fortune, Hill’s crew takes out its cleaning supplies to clear up the broken coffee table and beer bottles scattered on the floor and dirty dishes lying on the counter.

Less than an hour later, they head out and leave behind the three band members chowing down on the tacos in the living room, taking with them the remnants of last night’s revelry and a paycheck.

Hill, a 2008 UT graduate, started the service company Aftermath Party Cleanup & Food Delivery this past winter, inspired when a friend mentioned Hangover Helpers, a similar business in Boulder, Colorado. Starting at $30 and about $10 a room after that, plus the cost of food, Hill will bring food and other necessities for a client and clean up a house as the malaise of the day after a party sets in.

“I wish I could’ve come up with the idea on my own, but I think it’s awesome and something Austin needed,” Hill said. “I throw a lot of parties for my friends, and I think about all those times I was sitting there just wishing I wasn’t in a house that was so messy. It just feels gross after a while.”

Aftermath is a branch of Hill’s growing party business that he started on a whim with Premier Party Cruises two years ago. While working in Houston as a design engineer at an oil services company in March 2009, he came up with the idea to build a barge on a friend’s lakefront house in Houston for parties.

Hill spent the ensuing time brainstorming, designing and talking about the idea endlessly. He went so far as to create a Facebook event for an Independence Day party for his future barge even after he lost the space to build the barge when his friend was evicted from the lakefront.

“Building it became a pride thing, like, ‘If I back out now, I’ll never hear the end of it, so I can either just call it quits and regret it or take out some loans and build it,’” Hill said.

Three months and $90,000 in loans later, Hill had just enough time to throw the party in July on his newly built 20-feet-by-50-feet barge on Lake Travis. In March of last year, he held his first party for a client, and, two months later, Hill quit his job and moved back to Austin to focus on the endeavor full time.

Although an impulsive move — leaving the comfortable pastures of a nine-to-five job for the unknown world of entrepreneurship, Hill cites the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss, which details how to become an entrepreneur, as helping him go full-force into his business.

When the barge business was on hiatus last winter, Hill and his roommate Phil Doubek, who also financially supported the party barge, decided to expand the business and started Aftermath. In a matter of weeks, they had a website, advertisement and cleaning supplies ready to go. Although there was initial interest, including the cleaning at the local band’s house, Aftermath struggled to maintain consistent business during its first few weeks. However, they have since cleaned 30 places since January.

However, if there’s one thing he cannot be motivated to do, it’s to clean up his own house.

“Now that I’m providing this service, it’s just not the same,” Hill said. "I’m not getting paid to clean up my house — so I don’t.”

Saturday morning, after the party has ended, the drinks have been emptied and the hangovers have begun, Brian Hill and a couple of his friends arrive at the house of a local band and immediately hand them a bag of Torchy’s breakfast tacos. As the bandmates continue to look on in amazement at their breakfast fortune, Hill’s crew takes out its cleaning supplies to clear up the broken coffee table and beer bottles scattered on the floor and dirty dishes lying on the counter.

Less than an hour later, they head out and leave behind the three band members chowing down on the tacos in the living room, taking with them the remnants of last night’s revelry and a paycheck.

Hill, a 2008 UT graduate, started the service company Aftermath Party Cleanup & Food Delivery this past winter, inspired when a friend mentioned Hangover Helpers, a similar business in Boulder, Colorado. Starting at $30 and about $10 a room after that, plus the cost of food, Hill will bring food and other necessities for a client and clean up a house as the malaise of the day after a party sets in.

“I wish I could’ve come up with the idea on my own, but I think it’s awesome and something Austin needed,” Hill said. “I throw a lot of parties for my friends, and I think about all those times I was sitting there just wishing I wasn’t in a house that was so messy. It just feels gross after a while.”

Aftermath is a branch of Hill’s growing party business that he started on a whim with Premier Party Cruises two years ago. While working in Houston as a design engineer at an oil services company in March 2009, he came up with the idea to build a barge on a friend’s lakefront house in Houston for parties.

Hill spent the ensuing time brainstorming, designing and talking about the idea endlessly. He went so far as to create a Facebook event for an Independence Day party for his future barge even after he lost the space to build the barge when his friend was evicted from the lakefront.

“Building it became a pride thing, like, ‘If I back out now, I’ll never hear the end of it, so I can either just call it quits and regret it or take out some loans and build it,’” Hill said.

Three months and $90,000 in loans later, Hill had just enough time to throw the party in July on his newly built 20-feet-by-50-feet barge on Lake Travis. In March of last year, he held his first party for a client, and, two months later, Hill quit his job and moved back to Austin to focus on the endeavor full time.

Although an impulsive move — leaving the comfortable pastures of a nine-to-five job for the unknown world of entrepreneurship, Hill cites the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss, which details how to become an entrepreneur, as helping him go full-force into his business.

When the barge business was on hiatus last winter, Hill and his roommate Phil Doubek, who also financially supported the party barge, decided to expand the business and started Aftermath. In a matter of weeks, they had a website, advertisement and cleaning supplies ready to go. Although there was initial interest, including the cleaning at the local band’s house, Aftermath struggled to maintain consistent business during its first few weeks. However, they have since cleaned 30 places since January.

However, if there’s one thing he cannot be motivated to do, it’s to clean up his own house.

“Now that I’m providing this service, it’s just not the same,” Hill said. "I’m not getting paid to clean up my house — so I don’t.”