September 4, 2018 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

How your program can take up a cause this season

The best coaches understand that the influence of their program extends far beyond the basketball court. And, they do something about it.

Some coaches tend to doubt the difference their players can make, but the skeptics should take a moment to reflect on last season. Remember the parents, students and community members who showed up to your games. Think of the media attention paid to your program, or the way students swarmed your players after a big win. It should be clear that your program has the power to inspire others, but the question is what you’re doing with it.

Coaches across all levels make this priority. Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari joined some of his players at their local Salvation Army to serve food to the less fortunate. Wichita State men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall, along with players, partnered with Coaching for Literacy to support young children in the community who are struggling to read.

It’s not just the Division I programs that carry influence. From the professional leagues, all the way down to high schools, basketball programs have adopted a cause in their communities and found various ways to support it. Coaches and players understand that their presence and words have meaning, and they’re using that power to do something special.

Here are a few ideas from basketball coaches worldwide:

Fundraising for a cause: Schedule a car wash, bake sale or other event to raise money for a cause of the team’s choosing. The players can then deliver a check directly to the organization.

Community cleanup: Gather your players during the weekend and pick up litter from streams, roadsides or neighborhoods. Coaches can work beforehand to identify areas that are most in need.

Nonprofit volunteering: Partner with an animal shelter, food bank or other nonprofit organization to do odd jobs around their headquarters. This is a big help to those that typically don’t have a lot of volunteer assistance.

Hospital/group home visits: Some teams choose to spend a day at a children’s hospital or group home. Spend time playing games with patients and residents, or simply have a conversation.

Basketball clinic: Host a free clinic with your players to introduce children to basketball. This is a big help to families that might not have the resources to pay for camps.

Remember, this also is for the benefit of your players. It’s a coach’s responsibility to teach athletes about giving back and helping those in need. If you’re not already doing so, make it a priority before the new season begins.

Kevin Hoffman is the editorial director for Winning Hoops magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].