Recently, I watched a basketball game between Rutgers Newark and The College of New Jersey. I was with a coach from one of the local inner city high schools and 12 of his promising athletes. Three of the coach’s former students were on the Newark team. He also knew several of the other players, having watched them in high school games. The running commentary was very insightful.
“You know,” he said, “the best players aren’t on the court. They’re in the stands.” He then pointed to two of the students we had escorted to the game. “Those two could and should be on the high school team, but their grades are too low. I see guys who are amazing on the court, but they don’t make the grades, they can’t play, and then they can’t get exposure and a college scholarship onto a college team. I sometimes see them in the stands a few years later saying ‘look at that guy, I used to beat his *** when we played ball in high school,’ … but they’re not playing on the court, their sitting in the stands.”
The loss of talent and the unfulfilled futures in the inner city is a depressing saga that coaches and teachers see daily. Those who go on to play for college teams and keep their grades up receive a degree, learn the discipline it takes to compete, and broaden their opportunities for employment and a good life.
New Century has entered into a collaborative effort with local high school coaches, the YMCA, the DEA, and a few dedicated teachers to tutor promising basketball players identified by the coaches, and get them back on the high school team. Students work on our Language Arts software during their lunchtime at school. Then, they come to the YMCA during the weekends and evenings for a combination of our math lab and basketball practice. Together, we can put more of the talent back on the court and on to a better life.