The Owensboro Thoroughbreds are back, and new owner Chris Allison is hoping to shed the team’s old reputation with a renewed vision for success.
Allison knows it could be a bumpy road, but he’s also confident that his community-first action plan can help build a true foundation for the latest iteration of the Thoroughbreds.
“It’s definitely an undertaking to try to fix the reputation the team has inside the city,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be pursuing it if I didn’t think that it was worth the time. I’ve fallen in love with the city, the people of it, the stuff that’s going on.”
Allison currently resides in Columbus, Ohio, where he is the owner of ACE, Inc. and M1 Sports Group. He’s also been active with recreation and semi-pro leagues in Columbus for the last few years.
Through his connections in those leagues, Allison was invited to an owners’ meeting last July for The Basketball League, of which the Kentucky Thoroughbreds were one of eight founding members in 2017.
“I saw that Owensboro was on the map last season and they weren’t projected to be this season,” he said. “I talked to (TBL President David) Magley about it, and it just became an opportunity to pursue.”
Allison said he’s learned plenty about the previous Owensboro teams— the Bisons, the Mustangs and even the most recent Thoroughbreds — and he’s excited to try to fix what’s been broken.
“From what I’ve gathered, for the last few years they’ve asked for the community to support the team but they haven’t done anything for the community,” Allison said. “This year I’m not asking the community for anything. I’m asking what we can do for the community.”
Allison is heavily involved with the community in Columbus, and he’s hoping to bring that same mindset here. He already has plans for having day-long camps, working with those who have disabilities, reaching out to youth of all ages and possibly starting an adult recreation league.
A big key to putting those plans in action is having the right personnel, and nearly the entire organization will feature new faces this season.
New general manager Cody Ballard has played in multiple professional leagues and is the Co-Founder of the B.R.I.C.K. and Jr. B.R.I.C.K. League in Columbus.
Paul Kreisle has been involved with the team for the last two seasons, but this year he has taken the role of director of game day operations.
Mark Anderson takes over as head coach after more than 30 years of experience. Last year he was the head coach for the Jamestown Jackals, who also play in the TBL.
The season is quickly approaching for the Thoroughbreds, whose first game is Jan. 30 at the Sportscenter.
Allison said they’re inviting 20 players to training camp, which will be Jan. 20-22, and they’re keeping the roster limited this year. Hopkinsville native Corey Wilford is one of a handful of men they know will be on the team.
“We’re pretty set on five of them already,” he said. “We plan to have a 10-man roster. We don’t want to have a lot of people just so that we can have a closer-knit group of guys.”
Allison said while the main focus is on integrating themselves with the community, the Thoroughbreds aren’t going to settle for mediocre on the court.
“I don’t like to lose,” he said. “The team that we have in place are people that are competitive and good. We’re all going to be adamant about winning. I feel very confident in the group we’ve put together so far and who we’ve invited to training camp.”
Wins on the court, he hopes, will help speed up the process of creating a new legacy for the Thoroughbreds.
“Winning will be our focus because we’re representing the city,” Allison said. “If we win, the city wins. If the city wins, then I think we have a good future ahead of us.”