Ten years ago, Urban Hope started with us recruiting kids in our Walltown neighborhood to play on a parks and recreation Junior NBA League team.
It was tough going at times with minimal parent support, almost non-existent fan base, and very few wins. But the kids had fun playing and kept coming back. Eventually there were three Walltown teams—the Bobcats, the Wildcats, and the Panthers.
Fast forward to the 2014-15 basketball season. Three of the young men who grew up in the neighborhood and were involved in Urban Hope over the years volunteered to be coaches for the Walltown teams. This was a huge step!
These young men who were mentored through the Urban Hope program wanted to give back to the kids in their community. Coach TJ says, “Coaching is one of my core passions and purposes in life. Urban Hope has played a major role in my own life. My vision is to help kids grow and accomplish their goals. I want to see them become successful and then also desire to give back to the next generation.”
The basketball program is a learning opportunity for both kids and coaches. Coach Hunter says, “I learned patience. They are just kids so I couldn’t be too intense. I wanted them to like the game and get better at basketball.”
Coach Ike echoed the learning aspect of coaching, “This year I learned that communicating with young kids is not straightforward. It takes active call and response, plus physical cues like clapping to keep their attention so they can learn.”
The commitment to coaching meant they were involved in communicating with the players’ parents and guardians, providing transportation for both practices and games, and using their own resources to treat the kids to a meal once in a while.
The youth and their families responded well to these young coaches and the Wildcats (9 – 10 year olds) even won the championship in their age division. This is a first for Walltown basketball. How fitting that it was done under the leadership of coaches who grew up in the program.
Coach Ike shared his reason for working with the kids, saying, “I want to give back and be a role model, so the kids will know that they can stay out of trouble. My vision is to see young men and women grow with the Lord and develop a sense of responsibility and good character.”
This exemplifies hope—Urban Hope—and full-circle ministry!
For more information on the ministry of Urban Hope go to urbanhope.us