The East Bay Soldiers are well known for their winning ways.
But that’s not why NBA executives are talking about them.
Last week, members of the local youth basketball program were invited to attend the Jr. NBA Youth Leadership Conference in Chicago, a two-day forum for youth basketball coaches, administrators and other industry stakeholders to discuss best practices in youth basketball.
The reason the East Bay Soldiers were invited is because of the program’s innovative partnership with John F. Kennedy’s Life Enhancement through Athletic Participation (LEAP) program. As part of the program, student from JFK University’s Sport Psychology Master’s degree program are embedded in team practices and games. Graduate students work with young players on various topics ranging from behavior and anger management to life skills, team building, confidence and other topics in one-on-one, team and small group workshops.
The program aims to empower youth to “reflect, recognize their potential, understand how to reach it, and to make sound, thoughtful decisions along the way,” according to program officials.
The partnership has earned the East Bay Soldiers national recognition. At the recent Jr. NBA Youth Leadership Conference, EBS team coordinator Diana Evans Harris went to personally thank Jeremy Goldberg, president of Jr. NBA partner LeagueApps, for advocating for EBS to be invited to the conference.
Goldberg informed Harris that the previous day, at an NBA Team Executive meeting attended by David Krichavsky, the NBA’s vice president of Youth Basketball Development, EBS’ partnership with JFK University’s LEAP program was hailed as a “best practice.”
Harris said she felt humbled.
“Just to think that the EBS program from Richmond, Calif. was being discussed as a ‘best practice’ organization among executives from all of the NBA teams,” she said. “Amazing!”
Krichavsky also personally acknowledged and congratulated Harris for the good work being done in the EBS program.
Meanwhile, the EBS basketball teams were competing — and faring well — at the AAU Boys West Coast Shootout Tournament in Reno. About 65 kids from Richmond and surrounding communities participated, with the boys 10U/4th grade team bringing home the championship trophy. The boys 12U/6th grade team won the second place trophy, while two other teams finished in the Final Four.
“Most importantly, our kids and families had a blast and shared new experiences,” Harris said.