Sixty b-balling kids, along with plenty of parents and coaches, met at Carpinteria High School on March 15, to dribble down to the beach and back for the Mavericks’ annual dribble drive fundraiser. After returning from the beach, the Mavericks shot free-throws for two hours, making their sponsors proud while bulking up their donations. Though the tally is still out, this year’s fundraiser is expected to have brought in over $7,000 for the travel basketball program, gathered from hundreds of individual sponsors. Luke Nakasone had the most free-throws, bucketing 756.
But this travel basketball program is about a lot more than free-throws. Twelve years ago, a group of Carpinterians formed the Mavericks basketball program with the overarching goal of providing mentorship to local youth.
“After playing high school basketball in Carpinteria, then playing college basketball in Los Angeles,” said Ryan Reed, Mavericks co-founder, “I returned home to Carpinteria and helped coach the varsity boys at Carpinteria High School. I found such an apathy and lack of direction in our youth.” Reed wanted to help change that, so he took what he knew, basketball, and used that as an avenue to teach character to youth. “We started with one eighth-grade team, then we had two teams, then three, and so on. Eventually we added our Mavericks summer camps which have also been a huge hit in our community.”
Mavericks, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is able to keep the cost for their leagues and summer camp low through community support. Currently, Mavericks’ spring league has 70 kids enrolled, playing in seven teams, spanning grades four through high school. Summer camp last year served 200 kids.
Mavericks players receive an assortment of gear, and travel to tournaments in Ventura, Pasadena and San Diego. “It’s a life-changer for some of these kids to know that someone in their life loves them, and cheers them on, and believes in them. And we teach and coach hard work, perseverance and most of all, character. We call it ‘the big C.’ That’s what it’s all about,” added Reed. At weekly practices, players learn “character quotes” that they have to repeat back throughout practice, to help ensure the wise words stick with them on and off the court. Mavericks coaches don’t allow the word “can’t” on the courts either, saying they want to create a “healthy encouraging atmosphere.”
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