50 All-Stars is a California nonprofit youth basketball organization centralized in Moraga, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and surrounding areas. We operate year-round and specialize in player development and training utilizing the following categories: Workouts • Team Practices • Private Sessions • Open Gyms • Games • Conditioning • Combines • Clinics • Camps • 4-7 Year Olds • Tryouts

Newsletter #7

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April 1st, 2018The Official Newsletter of 50 All-Stars BasketballIssue #7

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A GREAT FIRST QUARTER
We're well on our way into the 2018 year, and the results so far couldn't be better. Workouts are nearly packed to the brim, and the energy at these events is electric. Convincing kids to work so hard so often is a trick in and of itself, but to convince them to highly enjoy that process is a whole extra ball of wax. We won't take all the credit, however, as we've very obviously weeded through all the kids that have entered our program to arrive with those who've survived. These survivors are those special individuals who just so happen to love hard work, and they are at the crux of all we do and who we are.
SATURDAY OPEN GYMS

SATURDAY OPEN GYMS: TAKING OFF!

Many programs just scrimmage instead of teach their kids the game of basketball. They do this because it's easy, takes very little coaching knowledge, and the kids enjoy it so much they go home and convince their parents they're in the perfect program to keep giving money to. Only problem is this strategy stunts the growth of these players to an extreme extent.

We do not scrimmage extensively, regardless of the wants of the kids. We know they want to be great basketball players far more than they want to just scrimmage all day. On Saturdays, however, all we do is play. Players most definitely need to play and to explore and to challenge one another to grow in competitive ways, so this is the day we do that.

Over the years, our Saturday open gyms have been up and down in attendance. But now finally the kids are starting to take to the process. We definitely don't make it easy, either, as the team that loses might not play for 2 or 3 games. Instead of "fairly" choosing which loose players get picked up, we allow the kids to select who they believe will give them the best chance to win so that the others will later strive to one day be that player. Our goal is to create a similar atmosphere as the playgrounds on the streets of New York. We aren't there quite yet, but we are well on our way! SO INVITE YOUR FRIENDS... Only the first 20 who sign up online are in!

BUT CAN YOU PLAY WEAK-HANDED?

BUT CAN YOU PLAY WEAK-HANDED?

At each level - Elementary, Middle, and High School, our plan is to have 3 teams... a team for the two lowest grades, a team for the highest two grades, and an elite team that spans them all. For the 1st-4th graders, we don't have enough for a full 1st-4th grade local team, so we allow our elite team players to play in those games as well. Gavin and Finley are two of our best 4th graders, however, so we make them play with their non-dominant hand if they choose to play in these "low division" games. Both were very excited about the challenge, but Gavin has basically fallen in love with it.

Not only does Gavin dribble, pass, and shoot layups lefty the entire game, he's also chosen to shoot his free throws left-handed as well. His determination to get it right has shined through, as he refuses to abandon his quest towards weak-hand perfection even in our latest triple overtime loss. Many parents afterwards told me they wanted to scream to him to just use his strong hand, but we all know our goals are not short-sighted ones. Gavin's eyes (and arms) are truly set on the ultimate prize! The other team, by the way, had no clue he wasn't left-handed.

THE CHASTAIN CHALLENGE

THE CHASTAIN CHALLENGE

Last newsletter I spoke to you about our professionalism worksheet, inspired by 4th-grade sensation Finley Chastain. After introducing it to all of our players, it quickly became evident that maybe this was something that only Finley could do. With some serious urging, however, we've gotten about 5 others to do it once or twice over the past few months... but Finley has taken it to a whole new level by extending the one-month challenge to a full 10 months of switching the 5 selected drills until she eventually conquers all 50 items.

Each month, she turns in her "homework" with impeccably perfect marks denoting which workouts she's done each day of that month. I was so impressed by her efforts that I not only renamed the challenge to the CHASTAIN CHALLENGE, I've been saving the sheets she hands me each month in a binder to return to her once she's in the WNBA.

She's about 5 months in, and there's a chance she won't be able to do all 10... but I wouldn't bet against Finley if I were you. I'm actually personally challenging all the parents and players out there to try the CHASTAIN CHALLENGE to see if you can keep up with this special little girl for even a month of your life. Actually, I double dog dare you! :-)

BASKETBALL CURRICULUM

BASKETBALL CURRICULUM: Almost Done

We have so many great and fun drills that we do all year long, and I love keeping things unique... but I also love dwelling on one drill until everyone perfects that particular skill set. I've finally figured out a balance, as I've painstakingly created a yearly curriculum that organizes our every workout, practice, open gym, and shooting session for the entirety of the year. Every day is designated a set of drills that are only repeated twice every 13 weeks, it gives an inspirational quote of the day, and has a unique motivational story. This summer, we'll also be videoing each drill so that future coaches of ours will be able to easily replicate what it is that we do.

So be sure to show up this summer, as we'll be filming everyone and keeping the footage of those that look the best. This curriculum of ours has already had amazing results and has made us coaches even more effective and efficient. We're always improving!

4th GRADE FOCUS: KAI PARKER

4th GRADE FOCUS: KAI PARKER

Kai Parker will be a 4th grader this summer, but he's been in our program since the 1st grade. By far the shyest kid we've ever had, his growth has been remarkable. Regardless of how much he's failed, how enormous the other teams are, or how hard workouts may get, this kid keeps coming back for more. I can say, without hesitation, that Kai is the bravest player in our program. With him we've learned that COURAGE DOESN'T ALWAYS ROAR. Here's this quarter's FOUR QUESTIONS FOR OUR FOURTH GRADE FOCUS:

Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF OUR PROGRAM? A. The initiation we have for our new players

Q. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULDN'T FAIL? A. Practice harder

Q. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST HURDLE? A. My fear of failure

Q. ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT 2018'S ELITE TEAM? A. Yes, because travel tournaments have so many games.

OUR PROGRAM'S ACTUAL COST

OUR PROGRAM'S ACTUAL COST

From the inception of this program of ours, I've been far more interested in growing the program to reach our goals than I've been in making money. So I've basically charged whatever I was able to ensure we had teams and had enough for gym time and jerseys and everything else that was absolutely mandatory.

When we finally reached the price of other programs, I figured this was a good place to stop in the annual raising of our prices. So we're now at $600 every 4 months or $1,500 per year, but our main financial issue is that other programs charge that much while not going seven days a week like we do. They go 1 or 2 days instead. We also offer free summer camp, free monthly clinics, we heavily discount our morning boot camps for members willing to come a ton, and we have a travel team that manages to keep its price far below the normal annual $4,000 price.

While our quarterly fundraisers have been invaluable in making up for the money we lose each year, it is worth mapping out exactly how much our program would actually cost if it were ran by a more business-minded group of individuals. For a player that shows up 3-5 days (of the 7 we offer) per week, the overall price would be $6,000 annually.

We have no plans to raise our price (especially to this extent), but I do feel it's worth the mention. And, as I've promised many who've worried about our staff's well-being, I ASSURE YOU that I'll raise our prices to an appropriate level once your kids become so amazing at the sport of basketball that every player wanting the same greatness in the state will be banging down our door.

KEVIN'S BRAVERY

KEVIN'S BRAVERY

When Kevin Richardson first walked through our doors, I knew he was different. This small second grader just walked onto the court dribbling his ball between his legs and fired up a few 3's right in the middle of our ongoing high school workout like he owned the place. Of course I kicked him off the court (a few times), but his brashness carried over to scoring several times in an open gym that had several 4th and 5th graders playing. His first game with us, he had the most impressive 0-13 shooting game I've ever seen. A game that was immediately followed, however, by a 4-7 shooting performance that ended in a few game-winning steals and assists that showed us he was also willing to learn from his mistakes and adapt his game based on our coaching and advice.

Since then, Kevin - who lives 30-45 minutes away - has been to a ton of practices and workouts. He has accepted being benched for not understanding concepts that normal players aren't meant to learn until high school. Every single game, he absolutely expects to start (although he very rarely does, being the young 2nd grader on our 1st-4th grade squad). He wants in every game, big and small, and he usually produces whenever he's given a chance.

More than the obvious skill Kevin has, his bravery is his greatest trait. Basically, he has absolutely zero problem with challenging himself beyond his current capabilities... and he actually thrives the more pressure you apply on him. In short, Kevin Richardson is everything our program is about and we are proud to have him on board!

OUR FUNDRAISER PARTIES

OUR FUNDRAISER PARTIES

Our March Fundraiser went very well. Organizers Julie Gage and Helen Dorinkina definitely did their thang! We had picture day, initiated a few new players, and we raised over $10,000 in our first quarter efforts. We are well on our way to our annual goal of $50,000 that's meant to assist with our gym purchase efforts, our players in need, the equipment we need for workouts, and a bit extra payment for our staff.

Our tagline for these events has become "Please allow us to keep our program's cost as low as they are. We only ask for the basics, and we use each year to earn our payment... as we only ask you to donate as much as you believe our efforts are worth. If that price is nothing, we'll accept that and we'll try our best to earn more the following year".

Our next Fundraiser will be a pool party in June that will include a silent auction and the assigning of captains for each of our teams. So be sure to donate any items you'd like, and be extra sure to book this event online so that our teams can be as strong as possible in this regard.

Let me know if you have any questions!

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

In June, our kids quickly become one grade older. We'd like to prepare for this change by updating their grade levels in January instead. This way, instead of our players being shocked by the skill level of players on teams in tournament play, we'll go from playing players one grade higher to playing the "correct" grade right when June begins.

For this plan to work, we'll have to reassign our elite teams starting in 2019 to one designation higher for them to properly play in the 4th, 8th, and Varsity divisions all year long. So all current 2nd graders will be in 3rd grade this summer, but we'll consider them the top class for our elementary by next year... as they'll lead a team full of kids in their grade as well as the 3 grades below. Current 3rd graders will be teamed up with all grades up through our current 6th graders, and current 7th graders will be teamed with all grades through our current 10th graders.

The summer time is crucial for basketball, so that will be the crux of our focus. This should actually be soothing news to any elite team player going through our long and arduous 4-year process of accelerated growth by skipping a year by being sent to the top of their class a bit early. So instead of our current 6th graders playing a grade above next year, they'll be playing their grade.

Overall, our program is one more step closer to perfection.