Dozens of kids and teens will get the chance to practice their lay-ups and dribbling skills with members of the New York Knicks at a free basketball clinic in the Bronx on Saturday evening.
The basketball team is partnering with the YMCA of Greater New York and the Department of Youth & Community Development as part of the city’s weekly Saturday Night Lights program, which provides athletic and other extracurricular programming to 11- to 18-year-olds at more than 100 locations across the five boroughs.
Saturday’s event at the Castle Hill YMCA in the Bronx, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will be the first of four clinics with the Knicks in the coming months, expanding a series that launched earlier this year. Next spring, 10 teens will get to play with the team on the court at Madison Square Garden.
“Although for some of them it may be a one-time experience where they’re learning from professional coaches, they’re learning from folks who also trained the Knicks, this is something that lasts with them for a lifetime,” said Darryl Rattray, DYCD deputy commissioner for strategic partnerships.
Saturday Night Lights launched in 2011 to give young people a safe space to have fun on the weekends, at no cost. The program has expanded over the years and received a $1.25 million boost from the mayor’s office this past July. Kids and teens can now take basketball, volleyball, dance and other classes from 5 to 9 p.m. at 137 locations citywide. The YMCA runs 17 of those sites.
“Having our doors open on those Saturday evenings at no cost to young people, to be able to engage in those sports skills training, that progressive skills training, it’s just super critical,” said Nicole Kourbage, director of citywide teen programs for the YMCA. “We have a lot of YMCAs that sit on two different gang lines and fault lines, you know, and the YMCA is a safe space for young people to go when they may not have other places to go.”
Kourbage said she’s expecting between 60 and 100 participants at Saturday’s event. While priority will go to kids who are already enrolled in the YMCA’s Saturday Night Lights program, she said no one will be turned away.
Here are the dates and locations for the upcoming basketball clinics with the Knicks:
- Saturday, December 17: Castle Hill YMCA, 2 Castle Hill Avenue, Bronx
- Saturday, January 21: Long Island City YMCA, 32-23 Queens Boulevard, Long Island City
- Saturday, March 4: Broadway YMCA, 651 Broadway, Staten Island
- Saturday, April 8: Flatbush YMCA, 1401 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn