The 2008-2009 season began in October at the Bronxdale NYCHA gymnasium. In December the league moved to South East Bronx Neighborhood Centers (SEBNC)'s gymnasium, located at their Forest Neighborhood Houses Recreation Center. SEBNC recently installed a new floor for their basketball court, and Bronx Community Solutions' community service crew helped them put up a fresh coat of paint. It was a pleasure to help refurbish this community facility and partner with SEBNC to sponsor the league.
This year seven teams with a mix of youth and adults competed: A Bronx Community Solutions team composed of former clients and other youth, a team of adults from SOBRO; All 4 One, a youth team from the Mitchell Houses; a team of youth and adults from the Harlem Community Justice Center; a youth team from Job Corps; a team of officers from the Department of Probation; and team of officers from the 41st Precinct.
The story of this year's winning team and their coach is an inspiring one (from Case Manager Judah Zuger):
In an awards ceremony held Monday March 16th, All 4 One and their coach were presented with a plaque acknowledging their accomplishments (above, click to enlarge).
In 1992, Rasheem was a young man who had just won a high school basketball championship. He had a bright future. But a few weeks later he was pushed onto the subway tracks, breaking his neck and confining him to a wheelchair. After his accident Rasheem could have been bitter, even angry, but as he puts it, "You can’t turn back time, but you can turn a negative into a positive."
In February 2009, Rasheem, now 35 and a community organizer in the Bronx at the Mitchell Houses, coached his youth basketball team to the championship in the 2008-2009 Bronx Community Solutions basketball tournament. Rasheem started his basketball team, “All for One,” and tournament in 2001 because “No one was doing much for the youth in the neighborhood.” The young people join his basketball team because “I show interest in their lives and I'm providing alternatives to street life.” Rasheem also believes that his basketball team prevents violence in his neighborhood.
Rasheem explains that “I wanted to give back” because “a lot of the kids in my neighborhood lack fathers and role models.” His team of 16-22 year olds played in the third season of Bronx Community Solutions basketball tournament, which was designed to bridge the gap between police and youth. Rasheem's team clinched the championship by defeating a team from the 41st Police Precinct in a tense overtime game. More typically the interaction between these two teams’ member would have played out in the streets or a holding cell, but now it's in a basketball tournament. Rasheem is a big part of the reason for that.