When CMEK Basketball started back in 1997, we coached children in the comfort of their own backyard/driveway. When the pandemic hit, we were forced to be creative given the government and school guidelines relating to basketball. As such, we have returned to our original roots.
We have had several same grade/school/gender groups already established as our AAU travel teams are usually made that way for camaraderie, scheduling and other reasons. Transitioning those groups outdoors has been easy. In fact, some started last May when socially-distanced, outdoor basketball training became acceptable.
What we are finding now is many parents are looking for awesome outdoor programs. They are creating new groups knowing that outdoor play is safe, particularly amongst their children’s friends/classmates. Making a group is simple since many schools have a grade chat setup by gender. If enough players are interested, we find a backyard host volunteer or the group can come to one of our outdoor full courts (CMEK provides the host a certificate of insurance). Then we select a day/time that works for the group. Each coach runs drills specific to the age group and then the group finishes with game-play. We incorporate team-building and other core CMEK values into each program. Our coaches are also required to obtain a CPR/First Aid certification, come with a COVID-19 Safety kit that includes hand sanitizer, wipes and other supplies and are well-trained to know if there could be a health issue. Masks are optional, but not expected to be worn.
The team parent establishes a CMEK chat and communicates any time-sensitive messages, like inclement weather. We also share photos and videos which the parents love to see; There is nothing like a smiling face while playing a sport outdoors.
Currently we have groups from all of the yeshivot, boys and girls starting at pre-k and through eighth grade. Should indoor games and play be permitted come the winter, groups will have the option to continue playing. If not, groups will continue in the spring.
By Chad Mekles