Jermaine Lloyd, a Bronx-native is the Founder of Back 2 Basics Academy, a youth basketball program in the North Bronx. Lloyd is also a Science teacher and coach at the Manhattan Country School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Lloyd grew up in the Bronx where as a child he participated in all sports – basketball, baseball, football, swimming, gymnastics and volleyball. He played football at DeWitt Clinton High School before transferring to Evander Childs. He also played street ball, rode BMX bikes and played a lot of pick up ball with many of NYC’s prominent basketball players.
What inspired you to form Back2Basics?
I noticed that there were many gifted kids in my neighborhood that lacked direction, the basic fundamentals and were also unaware of the many doors that basketball could open for them. I knew a lot of basketball players who played in college as well as professionally and felt that if I could get them to share their experiences and journeys while I facilitate basketball clinics then maybe the kids would start looking outside of our housing complex. A good friend of mine, Roy Allen was looking to do the same thing. Together we hosted outdoor clinics and formed travel teams with the kids that regularly attended our clinics and shared their school progress with us. Roy moved to Charlotte, NC and I ran “Yes 2 L.I.F.E” on my own for a couple of years until I was approached in 2001 to partner with 3 other coaches. We formed Back 2 Basics Basketball Program. It was in 2008, due to difference in agenda that I continued on as Back 2 Basics Academy.
What in your background prepared you to launch a youth basketball program?
My parents were great role models and were committed to children all their lives. Mom was a public school teacher in the South Bronx and dad was a mentor and staple for the neighborhood kids. They called him, “Pop Lloyd.” At an early age I understood the need to serve others.
How is Back2Basics basketball different than other basketball programs?
Our golden rule is to never turn any child away, and we offer structured age-appropriate programs for pre-schoolers to young adults. There are NO tryouts at B2B: we offer FREE training and playing opportunities to any child, regardless of skill level. We instill the importance of working hard to achieve results and seizing opportunities when they arise.
While we celebrate the trophies commemorating our players’ triumphs at some of the most competitive youth basketball tournaments on the East Coast, the true measure of B2B’s influence on their lives can be seen in their off-the-court victories: the high school diplomas, college degrees and promising professional careers they go on to achieve. Our program is known for providing unique opportunities to young boys and girls throughout their elementary years all the way into adulthood.
One of our goals is to consistently provide weekly tutoring and homework assistance by hiring certified instructors. B2B’s mission encompasses the whole child and isn’t measured in points, assists and rebounds. We are equally committed to providing sophomores, juniors, and high school seniors with preparatory courses for SAT and Advanced Placement exams; offering guidance and advice to all players and their parents about boarding school and college scholarship opportunities; and arranging for our teens to experience campus life outside of the inner city by making college visits several times a year. Over the years, we have developed strong relationships with both coaches and admissions officers (educational institutions as well as basketball organizations), who know that B2B players have the solid foundations — the character — to excel both athletically and academically at their prestigious educational institutions.
What do you do when you’re not coaching basketball?
In addition to being the founder of B2B, I am a longtime coach and science teacher at the Manhattan Country School, an independent school dedicated in principle and action to the realization of Martin Luther King’s dreams of a truly equitable, color-blind democratic society. On my own time, I enjoy facilitating various projects that support the development and maintenance of productive life skills such as community service projects, social awareness events, field trips, documentaries, etc. with organizations such as Hoops 4 Hope (South Africa & Zimbabwe), Coast 2 Coast Events (Spain) and ReSpect (Oklahoma)
What do you look for when you hire a coach to work with kids?
I focus on coaches who have a commitment to children and their development and clarity about B2B’s agenda and mission. It has to be about the kids; every kid, not just the visibly talented ones or the ones whose parents make donations.
How has the landscape of youth sports in NYC changed/evolved since you were a kid growing up?
I’ve noticed that many of the kids’ interaction with sports are adult managed due to less of a “go out, play and come back when the street lights come on” culture. So socially and emotionally most of the kids are not developing the life skills needed to navigate through “tough situations.” Unfortunately, this is leading to many characteristics that can harm their growth in sports, school and other areas of life. I’m seeing less mental toughness, productive communication and sportsmanship in youth sports.
When teaching young kids about basketball, what is something you stress?
I stress mind-set. Not how we handle adversity but rather how we respond to it. Mental conditioning and understanding our value and worth will allow us to build and maintain healthy relationships in everything we are a part of.
What are the particular challenges of doing what you do in NYC?
The biggest challenges for me are securing gym space and dealing with possessive coaches and programs that use children to develop their programs rather than use their program to develop children.
You must have lots of great stories from your years working with kids. Tell us about one that inspired you.
I have tons of inspiring “coming up” stories of kids that I’ve had the honor of coaching and mentoring. From Jamar Wilson (U of Albany) and Jennifer O’Neill (U of Kentucky) to Devon Collier (Oregon State/Puerto Rican National Team) to National Phenom, Jerron Love (South Plains College) but I would say that my favorite is about a young 5’3” guard, named Jose Romero (Greenville Tech) who I had the pleasure of training and mentoring when he was 17 and 18 yrs old. Jose was always overlooked because of his height and heard about me from schoolmates. I worked with Jose who travelled to the Eastside section of the Bronx from Washington Heights twice a week. Jose’s work ethic was second to none. He never complained or questioned me. His senior year, his school coach could not ignore Jose’s speed, shooting consistency or his aggressive and effective defensive presence anymore and Jose’s playtime grew. Jose received an invitation to play at Greenville Technical College, a junior college in South Carolina where he discovered that playing basketball was no longer his dream. Helping kids achieve their basketball dreams was now his passion. Jose moved to Salem, Massachusetts and reconnected with his father and started a training program called Young Soldiers and he is now a trainer, mentor and motivator to many children and young adults in Salem. He facilitates daily individual and group sessions as well as summer camps. Jose has credited B2B on video posts on Social Media in regards to his growth and direction…one of his statements read, ”When I was in NY, you were the only coach who gave me a chance. That was all that I needed to see what I wanted to do, you taught me well.” I am very proud of Jose and am inspired to continue what I do, the way I do it because of individuals like Jose.
What was the best advice you got from a coach?
The best advice I ever received didn’t come from a coach…it came from a teammate. Our point guard told me, “If you want the ball, go get it!” after that advice, I always played “lock down” defense and owned the rebounds on both ends of the court. The best advice I received from a coach came from the great Coach Garf (Howard Garfinkel). Garf told me, “teach the ones who show up,” in response to my frustrations of kids playing more than practicing.
Do you still play ball yourself?
I haven’t played competitively in a few years but I won’t rule out a return especially since my son is now 22 yrs old and I would love to play alongside him.
What are your favorite outdoor courts in NYC?
My favorite courts to play on back in the days were Stanley Isaac Courts on 96th and 1st Avenue (near the FDR Drive). My favorite to hang out at and watch would be West 4th…The Cage! But, the greatest thing about basketball in NYC is that it’s a passport to any neighborhood.
What is your most treasured sports possession?
My son’s High School Varsity “1,000 Points” basketball
Mets or Yankees? Bronx Bombers
Giants or Jets? Jets
Knicks or Nets? Knicks
Rangers, Devils or Islanders? Islanders
Red Bulls NYCFC? NYCFC
What is your favorite professional sports venue in New York City and why?
MSG because no matter where you sit… there isn’t a “bad seat”
Favorite sports book? – In These Girls Hope is a Muscle – Madeleine Blais and
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On & Off the Court – John Wooden
Favorite sports movie? – One on One (with Robbie Benson) and Hoop Dreams
Best sports memory?
When my son was in high school and played at “States” in 2012. He understood the moment before him and played hard and smart through the double-teams and hard fouls. He led his team to the semi-finals. He was injured at the start of the 3rd quarter and was forced to sit out. He attempted a return late in the 4th quarter but they had already lost the lead they had acquired. As we were exiting the court, players from the school that was waiting to see who they were going to play in the finals approached my son and congratulated him (by his name) on his game/effort and stated that they felt he was the MVP of the tournament.See more New York Sports Connection articles
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