Providing opportunities to the next generation

Seniors spend May running basketball camp for teens

Abigail Slimmon, Editor-in-Chief

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After four seasons of U-High basketball, Mohammed Alausa and Johnny Brown used May Project as an opportunity to give back to the basketball community.

The boys decided to start a “Young Ballers Group,” a basketball camp for young athletes who don’t have the resources for quality training. The camps were held every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Lower Kovler from May 4 through June

4. Anywhere from 8 to 15 middle school basketball players attended each session.

Maria Shaughnessy
EYE ON THE BALL. Senior Mohammed Alausa coaches middle schoolers in his “Young Ballers Group,” a basketball camp he ran with Jonny Brown in Lower Kovler for athletes with fewer resources for his May Project May 4-June 4.

“To be honest I didn’t want Lab kids because most Lab kids have the resources to be successful. I wanted young athletes who wanted to get good, but don’t have the resources to do so,” Mohammed said.

He explained that he went and put up fliers at a three South Side middle schools as well as emailed their P.E. teachers and principals to spread the word about this opportunity.

The main reason we wanted to do this May Project is because growing up we both knew other kids who played basketball but grew up in struggling communities. They didn’t have the resources that we had. For me, basketball wasn’t hard to access, but for them, even getting a hoop to play is difficult.”

— Mohammed Alausa

The boys ran drills, scrimmages and had special guests come in each session such as Jeff Sanders, a former Chicago Bulls player who is now a U-High coach, Roxanne Nesbitt, a 2018 U-High alumna who plays basketball at Yale University as well as alumnus John Rogers.

“We wanted to bring in speakers so that they have someone to look up to other than me and Johnny and can have goals for themselves,” Mohammed said.

Johnny and Mohammed decided to film the players over the six weeks of May Project and make a documentary to show what they are doing and for the players to see their progress.

May Project coordinator Dina D’Antoni explained that this project involves something the boys love and are passionate about while helping the greater community and not being just about them, which is exactly the types of projects she loves to see.

“I want the students to focus on what they bring to the community and what they bring to themselves as a part of the community,” Ms. D’Antoni said. “They should ask themselves how they feel that they can make a change or collaborate for a change in this new world that we live in. What is going to be my contribution? What is going to be my voice? This can obviously happen in many different ways.”

For seniors Mohammed and Johnny, choosing a May Project wasn’t hard because they knew their intentions from the start: to give back.

“The main reason we wanted to do this May Project is because growing up we both knew other kids who played basketball but grew up in struggling communities,” Mohammed said. “They didn’t have the resources that we had. For me, basketball wasn’t hard to access, but for them even getting a hoop to play is difficult.”