Academy at Palumbo stars are all business

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Tatiana Charles holds the ball for Academy at Palumbo. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Mylan Marable and Tatiana Charles’ trust in each other extends beyond the basketball court. They are teammates. They are friends. And they are also business partners.

“I trust her with my life and vice versa,” Marable said. “That’s the way it has to be.”

Marable and Charles are both seniors on the Academy at Palumbo girls basketball team. And when they aren’t shooting jump shots or doing homework, they collaborate on a small clothing apparel business called TNL Apparel (tnlapparel.bigcartel.com), selling T-shirts and sweatshirts. It stands for “Take No Losses,” which is almost a perfect moniker for the success of their basketball team, which was 5-2 through the weekend.

Marable and Charles are the leaders of an inexperienced squad that is playing well above expectations.

“It’s way more than basketball,” Griffins coach Chris Donnelly said. “It’s leaning on them to have cohesion and be leaders in a way that I haven’t had leaders before. The skill level isn’t as great as we’ve had in the past, so it’s falling a lot more on them. They help me to teach. They help me to coach, because they recognize that everyone needs to up their game and improve.”

Presenting an even tougher challenge was the fact that the Griffins didn’t play any basketball games last year. It was tough mentally on the team, but it breathed new life into an enthusiastic group.

Academy at Palumbo’s Mylan Marable looks for a pass in a game against George Washington. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“For me it felt great to get back on the court,” Marable said. “Basketball is everything to me so not being able to play last year was devastating. Coming back this year feels great, especially as a senior.”

The seniors created a welcoming environment and positive results are beginning to show. Charles averages about nine points and eight rebounds a game and her value is even greater as a trusted voice in both practices and games.

“It was hard work,” Charles said. “We had to put in the dedication and come back with great energy every game. We’re trying to teach a lot of new people coming in.”

Freshman Aisha Muibi is just one of the young players benefiting. She leads the team by averaging a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds a game. Sophomore Penny Mobley  is a calming force as the team’s point guard. It took some hard work to get there, but the Griffins are, in fact, getting there.

The Academy at Palumbo girls basketball team gathers after securing their fifth win of the season in a victory over George Washington. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“It has been tough,” said Marable, who averages 7.6 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. “But as a team and as individuals, I feel like every single one of us has improved. I feel like we are much more of a team now than when we first started. Before, we were playing like individuals. Now, we are playing for each other.”

Once the game is over, Marable and Charles go back to the drawing board, whether it’s to draw up plays or a new design for a sweatshirt. They started their business in ninth grade and hope to expand it in the near future. 

“One day I was just like, ‘I want to do a clothing line,’ ” Charles said. “She said, ‘Me, too.’ ” So we figured we would do it together. Starting out it was tough, but when you really want to do something, it’s not that hard.”

Academy at Palumbo girls basketball coach Chris Donnelly cheers on her team as the Griffins defeated George Washington in a Public League game. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Just like basketball. When the two Palumbo seniors put their mind toward it, anything is possible. They love to succeed and they love to share their success with others.

“What I love about both Mylan and Tati is both of them look at it as, hey we are all in this together,” Donnelly said. “And they will give up a pass to someone. We don’t have any egos on this team and I don’t know that I could say that a lot in the past. They are all about working as a team.”