In the ultra-competitive world of grassroots and AAU basketball, politics, pressure and promises are all-too-common. Therefore, it’s refreshing to have an organization that has the kids’ best interest at heart and stresses two often forgotten aspects of sports; fun and fundamentals.
Make A Play Inc. is a three-year-old not-for-profit based out of New York that runs tournaments, teams and skill builder clinics for youth athletes, while providing them with a safe environment to grow and develop as basketball players.
Co-founders Rafael Salazar and Sean Brown have opened their doors to all; from the star of a given team to the last guy on the bench. “We will never, ever turn down a kid who can’t play,” said Salazar. “Anyone will always be welcome to the gym.” It’s with this approach that Make A Play is having an impact on the lives of the 80 or so kids in their programs between New York City and Albany.
Salazar was a late bloomer and a “raw” talent on the court. He was never taught to set goals nor was he given sound advice on how to pursue the next level of competition. He eventually went on to have a successful career and mature into one of the best players in Junior College, but his experience helped plant the seed for Make A Play.
As a result, Salazar and his five-person faculty make sure each of the kids set a specific goal for the day in practice. Whether it’s dribbling more confidently with a weak hand or improving an elbow jump shot, this helps target drill work, while improving the overall skill-set of a player.
The second key point is focus. When a student-athlete gives his or her undivided attention during skills and drills, their game will develop faster and they will begin to have more fun.
These teaching points are currently being stressed during Make A Play’s eight-week Fall Skill Builder Clinics at PS 145 in Manhattan. The 90-minute sessions have players ages 5-18 learning the fundamentals and finer points of dribbling, shooting and passing. Students will also be given the opportunity to compete in shooting drills, strategy sessions and scrimmages.
Youth sports can be an expensive undertaking for anyone, even trending toward being exclusive. With the help of sponsors like Hybrid Light, Make A Play can offer top-flight instruction, while also being cost effective.
In the coming weeks, Make A Play will be releasing tournament schedules, a clear indication of its growth and a great opportunity for youth athletes in the tri-state.
---Thanks to Youth1 and Zach O'Connor-Robol for their support of Make A Play, Inc.
Make A Play Staff