“Before I started this business, I had to go before the Lord,” said Beasley. “Then I went to my wife and she agreed. “When he came to me, I didn’t have any problems with it. I backed him because he wanted to do things that were helping somebody else,” Said Joann Beasley. “I felt it would be awesome because we would be bringing players that people don’t see, don’t recognize them or know who they are. It is an awesome opportunity to bring these young guys here to let them play,” she said.
“We have a lot of sub leagues (semi-Pro) leagues around. “We chose the ABA because of the reputation. It was the old league i.e. Dr. J and Julius Erving.” Stated Beasley.
“ ABA was an all-Black league until the NBA bought the players from ABA. Until then, NBA was all white.” At that point, the ABA went dormant. You know, the three point shots were invented by the Black players.” He stated.
In 2000, a gentleman by the name of Joe Newman bought the rights to the ABA. He then made it easier for Blacks to be able to participate in ownership. “We have a lot of women owners. In fact 75% of the league is owned by minorities,” said Beasley.
Originally named Pensacola Energy, the organization had to change the name as it conflicted with City of Pensacola Energy. “I was sitting home one day and an advertising agency called. I thought they were looking to partner with me. Instead they were calling to let me know that the City of Pensacola had the name Pensacola Energy and it was copyrighted. So I had to find another name. So after talking to my son, we started thinking about different names; Pensacola Storm, Rain and then Lightning. So Pensacola Lightning became our new name. We partnered with Michael Blankenship (the non-profit side of the youth team) and brought the AAU in with the ABA.”
The team plays its first game is November 4th at Tate High School. Tickets are $10 at the door.
“This year, we are planning dynamic half-time shows for the audience. “We are just bringing wholesome fun for the family,” said Beasley.