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Community Spotlight: MetroBall Youth Outreach

MetroBall, now the largest youth streetball league in the D.C. area, was formed in 2000 as a way to keep children and youth active and engaged all year long. The nonprofit operates an after-school basketball program at several area schools and has a youth travel team that competes in tournaments around the country. And the program goes beyond ball: MetroBall provides youth with trained instructors who help them stay focused to meet their goals. These trainers interact with youth for 10-15 hours a week during a full year. 

In addition to the after-school and travel team programs, MetroBall offers an 8-week summer tournament with divisions for elementary school, middle school, junior varsity, and varsity. The nonprofit also has programs for college preparation and sports journalism. This month, Terrance Judge and Kevin Jones, the group’s co-founders, told us all about how MetroBall works for District area kids. 

Tell us more about the summer tournament. Why was it started?

The New York Avenue Summer League Classic” is the largest youth basketball event in the city. Since it’s inception in 2000, this event has helped to ease tensions between youth in the Truxton Circle region of the city. Youth from the surrounding neighborhoods interact with each other through competitive activity. This positive interaction has proven to reduce violence and deviant behavior in the neighborhoods surrounding the New York Avenue Playground (100 N St. NW). In the late 90's and in early 2000 the Truxton Circle area and the surrounding Wards were filled with violence, drugs, and criminal activity. Youth were being murdered at an alarming rate which forced the Co-founders to get more involved in the community. We used sports as a tool to capture the youth attention by starting a "FREE" basketball league. It was rough at the beginning, but we remained consistent and the youths bought into the program which resulted in a reduction in neighborhood beefs and killings. The mission of MetroBall Youth Outreach is to empower at-risk DC area youth to achieve life-long success through mentorship, educational enrichment, life skill development and sports.  Our goals are to succeed in building a safe environment for youth to experience a positive, productive, and safe social community through sports and team social dynamics and identify youths who are subject to having a turbulent transition to adulthood.  MYO is a program that primarily focuses on middle and high school youths which is where a growing number of youths that are either falling through the cracks at school or already entangled with the juvenile court system however elementary students are also involved in the program under different criteria. Our goal is to help break the habits that are leading to trouble or deviant behavior in schools and the streets.

How many kids play in the tournament each summer?

We have 500+ participants each summer.

Tell us more about your after-school program. What does a typical session look like? 

When properly funded the After‐School Program provides the following:

  • Academics, Tutoring and Mentor Assistance: This program is elevated by collecting pre- and post-assessment data and conducting longitudinal studies for their effect on raising student achievement. Designed to both support and expand the curriculum provided in regular classrooms including:
    • Homework assistance
    • Literacy and math instruction based on state and district standards and benchmarks
    • Accelerated learning opportunities for specific at risk students
  • College and Workforce Development: This program provides participants with assistance in planning education and career paths that match their skills and preferences. Provides guidance to improve their academics, test scores (SAT/ACT) and assistance with registering with the NCAA Initial‐Eligibility Clearinghouse. To transition in to the workforce, youth learn how to fill out job applications, write a resume, methods to seek employment, preparing for interviews, and counseled on appropriate language and proper attire that should be worn on an interview.
  • Drug Abuse, Childhood Obesity and Health & Nutrition: This program focuses on building healthy, well-adjusted young people. The workshop includes: 1.5 hours of presentations and Q&A exploring topics such as drug and alcohol use, sexual health, diet & nutrition, conflict resolution, and self‐esteem development.
  • Skill Camps to Develop Knowledge of Various Sports, Fundamental Skills and Physical Conditioning: The skill camp helps develop the youth’s knowledge of a particular sport, teaches basic fundamentals, promotes team work, promotes individual responsibility, and improves their physical condition which helps reduce the risk of childhood obesity. Currently, this workshop includes: 1.5 hours of physical activity utilizing the sport of basketball, incorporating passing, dribbling, shooting, defensive strategies, team dynamics, and following instruction/playbooks.
  • Sports Journalism and Broadcasting: Each year, MetroBall partners with the DC Department of Employment Services to hire youth through the Mayor’s One City Summer Youth Employment Program. These youth are hired as Scorekeepers, Statisticians, and Sports Journalists to enhance the Annual MetroBall New York Ave Classic Summer Basketball League that runs from June‐August each year at the New York Ave Playground.

Is it mostly basketball or other activities, too?

In the spring of 2018, we introduced flag football to the program which we created five (5) teams from ages 5 thru 14.

What grade levels participate in your after-school program? 
We have kids from elementary, middle, and high schools.

Who are the trained instructors who interact with program youth? 

DCPS teacher, parents, alumni of the program, and former college and professional athletes.

Who competes on your travel team? Is it open to everyone, or are there tryouts? 

The travel teams are open to all youth if enrolled in the program or not.

Who participates in your CCP program?

The program is mandatory for all youth participants enrolled in our program.

How do you help prepare them for college? 

Participants receive a pre- and post-assessment to track and measure their outcome. We coordinate with the parents and schools to ensure the youth stay on track for graduation or qualify for college eligibility. We have established a network with several colleges throughout the country which our youth attend tours and get educated on what it takes to become a college student or athlete. We invite current and former college students as key note speaker to talk to the youth about their college experiences. Youth can apply on our website or simply send us an email at metroballdc@yahoo.com.  

Tell us more about your sports journalism program.

The sports journalism program will possibly be our largest program once we get proper funding and a facility we can call our home base. Just think of it as a youth ESPN were participants will interview, record, and take pictures of other student athletes. The sports journalism program is currently a summer program, which is located at the New York Ave Recreation Center. However, initially our goal was to make it a year around program but with funding at a low and limited space at our current site it not achievable. Youth can apply on our website or simply send us an email at metroballdc@yahoo.com.

How can the D.C. community support MetroBall? 

MYO is seeking to expand upon these programs and create a brick-and-mortar facility, becoming a marquee sports and recreation center in DC, offering residents, schools, sports groups and out-of-town visitors alike a destination for sports, high-level fitness training, recreation, and special event space rental.  MYO’s hope is to build a large, state-of-the-art athletic complex.  It is intended to be one of the country’s biggest tournament-driven sports and training facilities, serving the entire Greater Washington area and beyond.  It would be able to host numerous exposure events, among others for basketball, hockey, football, baseball, volleyball, tennis, and other sports.  The complex will also serve the general public year-round, as over 10 million people visit the DC area each year, with its hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues.  

This will allow MYO to expand services to become a regional multisport training and fitness venue, as well as launch ancillary products and services.  This facility will also further the Company’s ability to reach at-risk youth throughout the region, sponsoring a growing number of afterschool programs, camps, clinics, tournaments, and more. MYO empowers participants to strive towards obtaining their “best self,” to acquire problem prevention, achievement and developmental outcomes that improves the opportunity for successful transition to young adulthood. MYO’s enhanced fitness training, competitive sports, and educational enrichment programs are vital to the future of Greater Washington.

We are also seeking more skilled athletic trainers, tutors, teachers, and Board of Director’s members.

Donations can be made directly on our website metroball.org; we are currently seeking funds to assist with rental space fees for the fall/winter session. We are in need of a stable facility where we can call our home base.