New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

The Sports Journal

Alton F. Brooks Outreach Program Benefits Children

The Alton F. Brooks Outreach Program will be providing scholarships for a basketball mentoring/wellness program at the YMCA in New Britain from January 2013 through March 2014. The outreach program, which has only been in place for one year, was inspired from the NEWBRACC / YMCA league. The league, which has been in existence since the 1960s, was previously sponsored by local churches and the YMCA. Its primary goal each year was to provide a basketball league for New Britain athletes which were free of charge. However, as participation increased and church attendance decreased over the past several decades, overhead fees became too expensive.

Due to this, the YMCA had no choice but to charge registration fees for the past three years. Unfortunately, player participation declined over that time because some families simply couldn’t afford it. Seeing this problem, Alton Brooks, who was one of the founding fathers of the original league, approached Nicole Rodriguez and Steven Thompson last February about doing something to increase participation while providing financial assistance to families.

Rodriguez and Thompson, along with a few others, put their brains together and created the Alton F. Brooks Outreach Program. The program, which is in partnership with the YMCA, is run by Rodriguez, who is the President along with Thompson, who is the Vice-President. Donelle Daigle, the Sports Director at the YMCA, oversees the league operations.

According to Thompson, the program will service boys and girls who are between the ages of 5 and 18 and their mission is to promote leadership, sportsmanship, and academic responsibility.

“We are committed to being positive role models in the lives of our student-athletes,” he said. “We will also aim to promote a level of integrity and honor that will be unmatched by any other club of its kind.”

The program is $60 for a 12 week program that includes a ten game season with playoffs for grades three through twelve. Current YMCA Student members will only be responsible for $15 of the league fee. If a child is not a member of the YMCA but lives in New Britain and is on either free or reduced lunch, they will also only be responsible for $15 of the league fee. Any child who meets those criteria will also be eligible for a three month membership to the YMCA and one hour of basketball practice. The $45 difference is paid by the Alton F. Brooks Outreach program and they estimate they will cover 220 children this year.

To be a part of the program, a child must also be doing well in school. Each athlete participating is required to carry and maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average at the high school level and a C average or above for the grade school level.

Thompson says that one of the main goals moving forward is to partner with all of the sports programs in New Britain to help promote a “one city” mindset. In turn, their hope is that all sports leagues will work together to fundraise to build a sports complex that will help student athletes train year round and also provide additional revenue for the leagues.

The Alton F. Brooks Basketball program also has a travel