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Hoop dreams

Sports | Six college roommates parlay trick shots into a global platform

Issue: "The Haiti quake," Feb. 13, 2010

What began as six competitive college roommates inventing basketball shots in their backyard has grown to an international internet phenomenon. Dude Perfect, as they have dubbed their group, has drawn millions of YouTube viewers to their creative collection of amazing trick shots, including a super-long-distance bucket from the third deck of Texas A&M's Kyle Field to a portable basket positioned on the sidelines below.

Tyler Toney, otherwise known as "the bearded guy" on the Dude Perfect website, needed only about 70 tries to make the seemingly impossible shot. Incredibly, many of the other whacky buckets depicted in Dude Perfect videos took just one take, a fact that has provoked some internet commentators to question whether the depictions are for real.

They are, according to Toney's father Jeff, whom the group has enlisted as its press coordinator since the project went viral. Media outlets from local radio stations to Sports Illustrated to Good Morning America have covered the story, collectively providing a platform that the roommates are leveraging for causes much larger than trivial entertainment.

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"They've had the opportunity to talk about their faith," Jeff Toney said of the Aggie undergrads, all of whom are evangelical Christians and involved in promoting the foreign aid work of Compassion International. "Just about everybody who talks to them asks them about their charitable initiatives and why. It's significantly elevated the exposure of Compassion International to a whole audience that may not even be aware of it."

Months after the long-distance stadium shot that catapulted Dude Perfect to stardom, the media frenzy has yet to dissipate. The group has even turned down some of its many opportunities for television appearances, including on Jimmy Kimmel's show and an MTV program. Talks are now underway for a potential cable television show. And the NBA has discussed employing Dude Perfect for promotions work in China.

The challenge for the roommates is coming up with new material to keep their fans watching. "It's not like they can just do a hook shot in the backyard anymore," Jeff Toney said. "People want off the billboard, over the bus, through the taxicab, and all that kind of stuff. The guys have some pretty crazy things that they're working on."

Sister sailor

Abby Sunderland hopes to match brother Zac's feat of sailing around the world alone

By Mark Bergin

Abby Sunderland, whose older brother Zac sailed around the world alone last year, embarked on her own solo circumnavigating trek Jan. 23. The 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., has raised the stakes from her brother's voyage, aiming to complete the trip without once touching land.

Another 16-year-old girl, Jessica Watson of Australia, is presently attempting the same feat. Five months older than Sunderland, Watson began her journey last October. For Sunderland to become the youngest person ever to circle the globe alone, a record her brother held shortly before another enterprising teen broke it, she'll need to complete her trip no later than five months after Watson finishes.

No matter whether Sunderland bests Watson in their friendly competition, she already has earned acclaim similar to that of her brother. The L.A. Daily News recently named the two California homeschoolers co-Sportspersons of the Year.

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