Hoops-Kid inspires change

-A A +A

Hoops-Kid program revived to teach youth life lessons through basketball

By Melanie Schumilas

For four weeks, Edmund Street Park was an oasis.


That’s how MarTrey Stevens, one of Hoops-Kid three leaders, described the site of the newly revamped program that aims to teach youth participants important principles of life through basketball. 

“Nothing else mattered to those kids on the basketball court,” said Stevens. "They don’t see color, they don’t see sex, they don’t see anything else. When we were at (Edmund Street Park), it was like our own little world... our perfect world of equality.”

Hoops-Kid was originally founded in 1999 by Jermone Battle and Dr.  Marvin McGinnis as a way to mentor at-risk youth.

“It was a way to keep kids off the street,” explained ShaQuon Battle, one of the three leaders and Jermone’s son. “If they were off the streets for an hour and 30 minutes, that was an hour and 30 minutes they couldn’t get in trouble. They basically used basketball as a tool to teach attitude, respect and principles.”

Jermone and Dr. McGinnis’ program thrived for a steady 10 years before ending. Eight years later, Jerome’s sons, ShaQuon Battle and Stevens, along with their cousin, Jon Hayden, revived the program after they noticed Bedford’s youth community had become stagnant.

“Me, my brother and my cousin wanted to do something for the community,” said Battle. “We wanted to do something for the younger generation and what better way than to bring (Hoops-Kid) back. We noticed in the community that the kids didn’t have anything to do. They weren’t playing basketball, or being taught some of the things they should be learning.”

The three family members relaunched Hoops-Kid in July with some new modern-day updates, such as videotaping the games and making highlight videos.

But the core objective remained the same; teaching skills and principles that are applicable both on and off the court.

“Number one is you have to work hard to be able to play... If you play basketball and don’t work hard, you’re not going to make the team, but if you work hard, the results will show on the scoreboard,” explained Stevens.

Leadership was another major teaching point of this program.

“We’re trying to show the older kids that they are leaders, and what they do reflects on the younger kids,” said Hayden.

Leaders were promoted based on their effort and attitude. Stevens emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive attitude at all times in order to lead a successful life.

“In basketball if you say something to the referee that’s disrespectful, you get a technical foul,” said Battle. “In life, if you say something to a police officer that’s disrespectful, you get locked up. Your attitude reflects your outcome. If your attitude is negative, then your outcome is negative.”

In order to reiterate the importance of respectful attitudes, the campers were forced to run laps if someone did or said something disrespectful.

“One day we had a kid yell ‘brick’ when another kid shot the ball and missed, so we stopped the game and had to run because we’re all a big family,” explained Battle.

Battle, Hayden and Stevens would also give pep-talks to the campers before and after the sessions to reinforce the principles being taught.

“Before we started we would tell them what we were looking for... leadership or someone that’s going to give 100 percent... and we told them to leave their attitudes at home,” said Stevens. “Afterward we would tell them if it was bad day, and if you come (to Hoops-Kid) with a bad attitude, you’re going to meet Martrey (Stevens) and we’re trying to help you not meet him.”

The reason the campers don’t want to “meet” Stevens outside of Hoops-Kid? He’s a correctional officer at Amherst County Adult Detention Center. Stevens used what he sees on the job to further motivate the campers to make positive choices.

“In jail, we’re starting to see more younger kids come through that are 18, 19 years old,” said Stevens. “The older generation in the program are close to that age, so we want to get them and impact their life so I don’t have to talk to them behind the glass. We want to give them principles that apply to basketball and off the court to keep them out of the justice system.”

After four weeks of bonding through basketball, Battle, Hayden and Stevens had many positive experiences to reflect on.

“My favorite part was coming everyday and seeing the kids smile, be leaders, or if they had a bad day they’d then come up to you and apologize,” said Battle. “Ultimately, it’s just about the kids.”

Stevens mentioned an act of selflessness from a 12-year-old camper stood out to him.

“One of our leaders in the younger group, Brianna, her team was only winning by two points... and she passed the six-year-old and then shielded every player away from him so he could get the shot off,” Stevens recounted. “It touched my heart to see a 12-year-old take the leadership that most (adults) can’t.”

For Hayden, getting the program off the ground again was a step in a direction for a more positive Bedford community.

“It’s a good feeling because we broke the ice with the program in the Bedford area,” said Hayden. “Being as we’re born in Bedford, we know what it lacks... we went through the same situation as the kids before... It feels good to fill that void.”

Even though the camp is done, the three family members will continue to inspire and mentor the participants. Battle said continuing to be active in the campers' lives is essential to “New Bedford,” the slogan that they created for the program.

“We started a slogan ‘New Bedford’ and it came about because we want to bring new ideas to the area, ideas that are exciting and diverse,” said Battle. “Being born and raised in Bedford, we understand what needs to be done with the youth and the community. I’m sure the idea that there’s nothing to do in our small town of Bedford will be reversed by giving our hometown what it really needs, which is ‘New Bedford.’”


“We would like to thank every person and every business that donated to these children,” said Battle. “It impacted their lives, because they now understand there’s a community of people behind him, and when they realize that they have support, they cannot fail.”

Selfless donations from local businesses and individuals were one of the reasons this four-week program was able to remain free for all participants. A special thank you to:

Bedford Police Department:
Crystal Miller
Yolonda Bannister-Staples
Tonya Jones
Jennifer Williams
Status Barbershop
Carlee Desimone McKinney
Dairy Queen
Peggy Browley
Fat Dogz
J’s Body Works
Centra Hospital