My son is just finishing up his first season with the Educated Ballers Association. Founded by Compton natives Chris Calloway and Joye Abney, the EBA has been running their spring program at the Salvation Army. As both a parent and a community worker, I’m thrilled about the arrival of this new Compton basketball league.
There’s so much I could say about this program — they are excellent at teaching basketball fundamentals, they communicate well with the parents, they emphasize the importance of academic excellence and education. They are truly a youth development program and NOT just a basketball league. Whether it’s problems at home or struggles in school, this organization wants to help parents keep their kids on the right track. Even the Saturday referees are willing to lend a hand with the kids and actually enjoy being there! The EBA is concerned not just about the kind of ball player they are creating, but about the kind of person that ball player is becoming!
Yet what I’ve been most struck by this season — as we’ve sat through evening practices and Saturday games, as we’ve bought raffle tickets and snapped pictures, and as I’ve observed hour after hour of interactions — is the way the coaches relate to the kids. These guys are simply fantastic with youth! They expect a lot from the kids — they are strict, tolerate no disrespect, and they consistently hand out consequences when the kids step out of line. They challenge the players to give their all, and they encourage every effort made. They are positive, caring, and quick to praise. And with that kind of commitment, it doesn’t take much to keep the players in check.
Our community greatly needs strong male role models who will both highly support and highly challenge our youth. Even kids with fathers in the home need to look around the community and see other men “in the village” doing their part. I celebrate the coaches of the EBA for being those kind of men. By generously investing some of their free time into the youth of our city, they are reshaping the community our children are growing up in! Their reward will go far beyond the wealth they could be pursuing instead — it will come in the form of a brand new Compton. Our community shines because of the work men like these are doing.
If you would like to sign your children up for the EBA program, or if you would like to volunteer your time to this great organization, please visit their website at http://educatedballers.com/.