John Shlesinger always had a passion for basketball considering he played in high school and countless amounts of pick up games. He continued to pursue his passion by coaching the basketball league with the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association (FHYAA) from December 2019 to February 2020 full of 15 to 16 year old boys.
Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association located in Alexandria, Virginia, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide the youth within the community the opportunity to experience teamwork, friendships, self-confidence and a supportive environment. FHYAA is operated completely by volunteers for after school sports like softball, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, rugby, volleyball, football and cheerleading.
John has been familiar with this organization since he was 10 years old and played until he was 18. In late 2019, his former coach within the league asked him if he was interested in coaching for the upcoming season and happily said yes.
As the season began, the coaches divided the players into 10 teams by random draw. The draw was in a snake arrangement where the coach who picked first in the first draw would then pick second in the next round, the coach who picked second in the first draw would then pick third in the next round, and so forth until all of the kids were chosen. John started out with the last pick and was at a disadvantage as he didn’t know the kids on a personal level like the other coaches.
Although he may had been at a disadvantage, John had a strategy where he based the kids’ height and weight to placed them in the according position. After working with the kids and learning their strengths and weaknesses, he could properly train them to be better.
While coaching, he learned that kids are easy to deal with if you treat them like people and not like a child. One obstacle he faced was that one of his players had a learning disability and had trouble understanding certain concepts. After some one-on-one and learning the player’s strengths, John used his expertise to make him a better player.
The league practiced once to twice a week after school and had tournaments on the weekends. As the season was coming to a close, John’s team ranked fourth out of the ten teams in the play offs. Although he started with a disadvantage, he is proud of how highly ranked his team was.
John considered coaching next year’s season, but unfortunately COVID canceled the league. Since then he has taken the opportunity to be a certified basketball referee.