The purpose of the program is to use basketball as a vehicle to help young men reach their full potential in life and share the Gospel through coaching, mentoring, and teaching.
Our basketball program has been around in one form or another almost as long as HeavenTrain itself which has just completed 40 years in August of 2021. For some time, the focus has been on boys’ basketball from grades 6 to 8 picking up at the end of the school year basketball season. This year we added a 4th grade team and expanded into league and tournament play along with our AAU teams. This would not happen without financial and coaching support, not to mention getting them to and from the tournaments and cheering them on.
Our program keeps the boys focused skill development, team building as well as self and social discipline. We accomplish this by providing both positive role models and a venue to keep them on track outside of their respective schools. This is all accomplished within a fun and competitive context over a four-month period.
Youth in the Central neighborhood often lack leaders in their life necessary to develop much of the stability needed to navigate through life, Lighthouse provides a pipeline of growth and evangelistic coaching relationships that introduce both discipline and Christ in a young man’s life.
We have seen students from our basketball teams not only win many tournaments, but go on to graduate high school, college, and even mentor other kids in the neighborhood as well. Every year that we grow with students in Christ and character we are establishing a foundation for hope in the Central Cleveland neighborhood. We develop basketball skills through skill development training, leagues, tournaments which often leads to improved academic performance in school through accountability.
Players are taught the game of basketball improving on both individual skills and team plays and plans. Practice is held two to three times a week depending on facility availability. The team participates in at least five (and as many as nine) tournaments a year in order to put teamwork and character development on display as the learn and grow together in competition.
Lighthouse staff and volunteers strive to share Christ both relationally by example as well as by word and deed. Coaching includes teachability principles/parables relating to discipleship and trust. Volunteers are able to support and encourage the team by being team parents and supporting the kids.
In addition to the above, we will also seek to develop Christ like character through character development classes and mentoring. The character development lessons will be taught at least once a week at the beginning of each practice. Lessons will be administered by coaches, volunteers, and possible guest speakers. Lessons will be 15-20 minutes long. (Lessons include attitude, goal setting, purpose, passion, teamwork, adversity, respect etc.) We will also seek to take teams on an off-site team building experience, evangelism exercises and an overnight stay at a camp to give students those memorable experiences that imprint on the heart and build relationships.
Please consider supporting our Christian focused Youth Development Ministry through our basketball program.
It continues to be exciting to see how our team play and support each other. As an example, one of the players was having a difficult time and the boys rallied around and encouraged him to the point where he was able to play well in the next game. In another instance, the boys took responsibility for ensuring that the HeavenTrain van was clean and ready to go for the next use. All though these examples may seem small, team building and self and social discipline are not often modeled in their community. In turn, the boys responded well to their new young coach to the point where he was able to talk about his faith and guide them in how Christ has guided him.