FORT WAYNE—For five long years, Coach Steve Emerson has persevered in his mission to help young people through sports. And while basketball is a passion he wants to share with them, it’s only a means to and end that is his real focus—teaching them valuable life lessons and opening pathways to higher education through his Summit City Youth Prep Basketball League.
Coach Emerson and other league officials recently honored all the young people who participated the past season and presented awards to the Trailblazers who won the Summit City Youth Prep Basketball League championship this year. Led by Danny Glaser, who averaged 26.2 points per game, the Trailblazers finished the season with a 9-3 record and now are playing in the 2013 Spring/Summer Gym Rats Team League from now through Aug. 29.
Again, while basketball is the primary activity in which the young people participate, Emerson emphasized that his goal is teach each young person the value of teamwork and cooperation and to put them on a path to college.
“I can teach them the fundamentals, how to bounce a ball, but that ball isn’t always going to bounce,” the coach said, explaining that professional basketball careers come to only a very select few people. Basketball, however, can provide a means to get a good education and that’s something a person will always have, said Emerson.
As the organization’s mission statement explains, the goal is to:
“Provide basketball players with essential life skills. Expose them to opportunities that better their lives and allow them to become men and women of integrity.”
Even in qualifying to play for the Summit City program, students must being doing at least “C” work in school, and preferably better. He said even good players won’t get into college without at least a 2.0 or “C” average. And, they won’t play for his program.
“You can’t bounce a ball for me if you aren’t doing at least ‘C’ work,” said Emerson.
To emphasize that message, he and league officials brought in Anthony Richardson of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who was drafted by the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets as keynote speaker for the banquet, which was held at Parkwood Church of God, 3320 Trier Road. Richardson talked not only about his experiences as a player but also of the importance of education and the doors it opens.
Emerson pointed out a number of Summit City Youth Basketball League alumni who have gone on to college, including:
• Matt Austion—a Paul Harding High School graduate now at Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne;
• Camron Davenport—a Wayne High School graduate now at IPFW;
• Derrick Eldridge—a North Side High School graduate now at Vincennes University;
• Jeff Jones—a North Side High School graduate now at IPFW, and
• Princeton Page—a Heritage High School graduate now at Vincennes University.
Coach Emerson said it has been a landmark opportunity to celebrate the league’s fifth anniversary and took the opportunity to thank supporters like his wife, Liz Emererson and father-in-law Mallery Coherd, Ms. Sherri, Monic Black, Misty Wattley and Assistant Coach Ken Rash.
For more information about the Summit City Youth Basketball Prep League, call Coach Emerson at (260) 418-7009.
This article originally appeared in our May 8, 2013 issue.