City to offer night basketball, life skill classes to boys, young men

B'More Night Hoops to run this spring, summer

March 05, 2014|By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun

City officials hope hundreds of boys and young men will participate in a new B'More Night Hoops league that will combine basketball and life skills workshops this spring and summer.

The program, to be announced Thursday, will be open to boys and men ages 15 to 21. Before the teams hit the courts each week, they will discuss applying for college, finding jobs and managing personal finances, officials said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the idea is to provide higher-quality recreational outlets for the city's youths. "Our young people want better for themselves, and we are going to provide them opportunities to get there," she said.

Participants will be expected to form four- or five-member teams and raise the registration fee of $100 per team, officials said.

Before the games begin, the boys and men will be required to participate in a 45-minute class, according to Rashaan Brave, chief of youth and adult sports at the Department of Recreation and Parks. He said guest speakers will discuss applying for college, taking the SATs, balancing a checkbook, creating a savings account and collegiate athletic rules, among other topics.

The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, called the new league a "step in the right direction" to combat what he called a 40-year decline in the city's investment in young people.

"Recreation is a huge need, just for young people to have a place to go to form relationships with each other and relationships with adults who care about them," said Foster Connors, a co-chairman of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development.

Bishop Douglas Miles, pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church and also a BUILD co-chairman, said positive recreational outlets are only part of the solution.

"The mayor should be commended for anything she does in an effort to save the young people of Baltimore," Miles said. "It's just that efforts like this have very little meaning unless they are attached to real jobs at the end."

For Jermal Johnson, who's 13 and an "excellent point guard," the night league will be a way to keep "off the street and thinking positively," said his coach, Greg Kirkland.

"It gives them a place that they can be themselves and still train to be young men," said Kirkland, who coaches boys basketball at Windsor Hills Elementary/Middle School.

Jermal, an eighth-grader, predicted boys will welcome the chance to play more basketball. "It's fun," he said.

Brave said the spring league — which has room for nearly 200 participants — will run from April 5 to May 31 with games held weekly between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. The summer league will run from July 12 to Sept. 6.

He said the games will culminate with playoffs between the best teams from the city's East and West sides. The teams will meet at Frederick Douglass High School and Maritime Industries Academy High School until the playoffs, which will be held at Baltimore Polytechnic High School.

For information, contact Sherron Bogues at the city's Recreation and Parks Department at 410-396-0848 or

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.