Tawan Slaughter has tried to do her part to nurture young basketball players since her standout career as a point guard at Christian Central Academy and SUNY Buffalo State in the early 2000s.
Slaughter – owner of the 716ers semi-pro men’s basketball team and a physical education and health teacher at King Center Charter School – runs a summer camp for boys and girls in grades 4 to 12 (email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for info). Later this month, she also will help launch a new Healthy Buffalo league for girls aged 7 to 10.
Healthy Buffalo organizes sports leagues and activities across the region, many of them at the North Buffalo Community Center. The new weekly league runs Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from June 20 to Aug. 15. As with all other such leagues, participants will get custom jerseys, photos and videos, be able to follow online stats and standings, and take part in a season-ending banquet and Hot-Shot Competition. Cost is $40 per player; sign up at healthybuffalo.org.
Q. Why did you decide to participate in Healthy Buffalo’s effort?
I like what league founder Chas Kirsch is doing, especially with the youth. I also think it’s a good opportunity to get girls involved and motivated. There’s always a lot of boys that want to participate. The girls kind of shy away from it. There aren’t as many programs, especially for the younger girls, so I think what he’s doing is phenomenal.
Q. You’ll be working with Rachelle Matthys, another top Western New York women’s basketball figure. What will your roles be?
Chas wants us to focus on the skills and fundamentals of basketball and put the kids through some workouts so they get the foundation in terms of learning how to dribble and shoot and pass. It’s important to have that solid foundation before moving up to middle school and high school.
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Q. What can girls and parents expect from the program?
Tuesdays, they’ll go through the skill work, learning the game of basketball. Wednesdays, they’ll be able to see what they’re learning when they play a 5-on-5 game.
Q. What has team basketball taught you about life, health and wellness?
The competitiveness, I believe, really gives you that drive in everyday life, that willingness to get better, learn new things, face new challenges. That’s very important for youth, whether you do it in school or on the court. The motivation and determination taught me a lot: not wanting to give up, to keep pushing, striving when people said I couldn’t reach my goals. Team-wise, basketball teaches you do depend on other people, helps you learn to trust, to compromise and work with others. Those are the fundamentals of basketball. Getting in shape and becoming healthy is very important, too, especially for youth. You don’t see them hanging around the basketball courts like when I was younger. Everyone’s inside playing video games, so this is a really good thing he’s starting up.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon