Freedom Hoops is an urban basketball program based in Kansas City, MO. The goal of the program is to combine a positive basketball experience with opportunities to grow as young men beyond the game. For the past four years, Freedom Hoops has worked with boys ages 7-17 on the fundamentals of the game while incorporating lessons of hard work, teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance. Their program utilizes former Division I and II college players as coaches, and encourages them to model the values they teach in coaching in their lives. Freedom Hoops also utilizes some of the player’s dads to assist the coaches, so the kids can see a positive expression of fatherhood.
In addition, Freedom Hoops strives to provide opportunities for urban youth that are not typically offered by other basketball programs, such as employment opportunities, academic support, mentoring, and service opportunities. Freedom Hoops sets up job shadows for its players to help illustrate that there are many different career options for the future. This experiences also allows them to learn how to interact with professionals in a variety of fields. To provide academic support, Freedom Hoops works with the players, their parents, and teachers to help achieve success in the classroom. They host study groups before practice, and each player is required to pass all his classes in order to play.
To further its players’ education off the court, Freedom Hoops likes to travel to different states to give its players the experience of visiting other cities and removing themselves from any negative influences in their community. Many of the young men have never left Kansas City, therefore these trips focus on teaching necessary life skills such as how to stay in hotels, act appropriately in restaurants, introduce themselves to strangers, and more. Another unique aspect of Freedom Hoop’s programming is that they run a fireworks tent in the summer to earn money for the program. The players who volunteered to work the tent learned valuable business skills such as being a salesperson, providing customer service, working cash registers, and more.
Thanks to donations, fundraising, and financial partners, Freedom Hoops players do not have to pay any fee to participate. All tournament fees, merchandise, meals, and other costs are covered so that finances are not an obstacle for anyone. Freedom Hoops also works with families to ensure that other resources, such as transportation, don’t prohibit any young man from being able to participate. Freedom Hoops plans to use its Under Armour gift card to purchase uniforms and other basketball equipment to continue to allow them to provide free basketball programming to the young men of Kansas City.