Friday, April 17, 2009

The Hoosier - Rebel coalition

A new day is dawning in the Bay Area
A new day is dawning in the Bay Area

In 1906, a devastating earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area. Then the Loma Prieta temblor occurred in 1989. Both cost lives and caused extensive destruction. Yet another seismic shift took place recently here -- one not involving the earth's crust but rather the club team basketball fault -- although few were aware of it or felt it. However, there were only positives resulting from this shaker.

Melvin Landrey, Oakland Rebels, and Rob Jones, Hoosiers

Melvin Landry (l) of the Oakland Rebels and Rob Jones (r) of the Hoosiers

The latest movement was caused by the coalition of the Bay Area Hoosiers and the Oakland Rebels, two club basketball team organizations sharing a common cause. Both are dedicated to the development of their student-athletes reaching full potential on the basketball court, as individuals in the community and in the classroom.

The Rebels group is led by Melvin Landry, also an NCAA referee and the head of the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department. He is considered a basketball icon in the East Bay. The Hoosiers have co-founder and CEO Rob Jones heading that organization. Now because of the collaboration, Landry's Rebels will focus on working with youngsters eighth grade and below while the mission of Jones' Hoosiers will be the development of teenagers in the ninth grade and above.

The Rebels organization began in 1987, making it the oldest in the Bay Area. But developing a consistent flow of funding has been a tough task for the Rebels. As a result of the new agreement, "It will maximize the situation for our kids," Landry said. "We lacked any real main sponsorship and it has been a struggle to get our older kids the exposure they deserve." The partnership with the Hoosiers will ease the financial burden.

Jones has a similar take. "This is a bringing together of two organizations truly in it for the kids. Both of us want to get kids better on the court and provide greater exposure so that each has more college opportunities. Their [the Rebels] coaches are like Phil [Philippe Doherty, the Hoosier Director of Basketball Operations] and myself in that the emphasis is on skill development. We also share a focus of mentoring these kids away from basketball, seeing them as unique individuals."

Philippe Doherty

Philippe Doherty, Hoosiers

Both programs are not about wins and losses on the court but wins and losses in life, where we can help," Doherty said. "The development of the person, the development of the player and greater exposure are what we emphasize."

There are educational advantages to being connected to the Rebels and Hoosiers. Both stress -- no, make that require -- the getting of good grades. "Some kids need help getting over the hump and we provide those resources," Jones said. "With the high school kids, we're always talking with the school staff to determine what classes and units are needed and we also provide SAT preparation classes. School administrators also call us when there are any concerns."

As Jones put it, "Both these organizations are like a family, it begins in the third grade and on up."

Actually, the relationships don't end once a youngster heads off to college. "I still get calls from {former Hoosiers] Rob Jones (San Diego), Ian O'Leary (St. Mary's, Oliver McNally (Harvard) and others," Jones said.

Aalim Moor II, the Director of Public Relations for the Hoosiers, offered this vision. "We want this unique coalition to develop into one of the premiere youth programs in the country. We see it as a historical time. What we are offering is a life program to change the lives of young people."

What was the genesis of the coalition? Landry and Moor are longtime friends. The former grew up in north Oakland, the latter in east Oakland "There were older people that helped us out back then and we are trying to return that favor," Moor said. "We got to talking" and the result ultimately blossomed into a wide-ranging -- Bay Area, Central Valley and Sacramento -- treasure chest to better those communities by aiding the next generation.

"We have amassed the top talent in the entire Bay Area," Moor continued. "Not just with the players but also the coaches, business professionals, lawyers, a clinical psychologist, teachers, administrators and a host of dedicated volunteers. With the Hoosiers and Rebels, we have close to 30 coaches volunteering their time. It's a virtual army of people of good will ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and work."

William Brew, the Chief Operating Officer of the Hoosiers, recalled a long ago conversation. "We [Melvin Landry and himself] were talking about joining forces way back when my sons [Chris and Will} were in the third and fourth grade. Melvin was leading the Rebels and we were the Bulldogs and we would end up playing against one another in a lot of the tournaments. If we had been together then, we could have won a number of the national tournaments."

As Moor summed it up, "It's all about kids and community and those willing and dedicated to making it happen."

Better students, better players, better people equal a better world.

What's more desirable or worth supporting than that?

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