Basketball fans across the country tuned in to watch the NBA finals this spring — but for me, the most exciting sporting showdown unfolded right here at Success Academy. On Championship Saturday, eleven of our best elementary school basketball teams gathered at the High School of the Liberal Arts to compete for a championship title.
More than three hundred supporters packed the gymnasium to cheer for their teams, and as you can see for yourself in this recap video, the game-day energy was as intense as any Cavs vs. Warriors finale. Each of the teams who competed earned a place at the tournament by winning their respective division playoffs in the weeks leading up Championship, which featured both our advanced players league (A) and our developing players league (B).
I absolutely love the energy at our championship games, which are the culmination of a season of hard work, dedication, and pure joy. The high-intensity moments make these games truly special — like when coach Ashley Freeman started dancing in celebration of SA Bronx 1’s advancement, or when “Magic Mel,” ranked fifth in the nation by the National Youth Basketball Report, sunk 32 points to lead SA Bronx 2 to their first championship victory. But while our coaches, players, teachers, and families create a game-day atmosphere that is electric, it’s the weeks and months leading up to the big day that make me the most excited about the Success Academy basketball program.
For instance, this year Coach Cole Coyle hung an orange basketball jersey on the wall of a third-grade classroom at Success Academy Harlem 3. Its purpose? To remind his scholar — a passionate basketball player — of exactly what he was capable of on the court and in the classroom. The jersey served as extra motivation for this scholar to work hard to improve in a subject that he found challenging. Success Academy basketball coaches are always finding ways like this to use the sport for scholar growth, going above and beyond the six hours spent training with our kids each week.
Many SA coaches are also deans at their schools, which means they are tuned in to the “big picture” for every scholar — academic performance and character development both on and off the court. They instill key lessons about teamwork, sportsmanship, a try-and-try attitude, and learning from failure. Our principals attend games, our families show up early and stay late to cheer, and all of this comes together to inspire scholars to give it their all — championship game or not.
As they practice drills, stay focused as scholar-athletes, and show support to teammates, our scholars are proving that there is nowhere to go but up from here!
Congratulations to the following teams who won championship titles on Championship Saturday:
Success Academy Harlem 5 (3rd Grade, B League) – Coach Brian Taylor, Coach Michael Session
Majid Bah, Azzareya Urena, Kayla Miller, Cherno Barrie, Oshyn Santos, Isaiah Shand, Samouka Dollee, Ayo Ogunwolu, Christian Bryant, Ely Tai, Jordyn Ruple
Success Academy Williamsburg 3 (4rd Grade, B League) – Coach Michael Barnes
Anthony Quinones, Ryan Ruiz, Taniy Stuart, Ana Toribio, Noel Toribio, Adriyel Cales, Courtney Miller Jr., Carter Nicolas, Ethaniel Collado, Ezekiel Collado, Evan Regalado, Stephen Sepaniak
Success Academy Harlem 3 (3rd Grade, A League) – Coach Cole Coyle, Coach Jewel Watson
Souleymane Bah, Kayleb Barlow, Mariah Coleman, Mohamed Doumbia, Javon Gates, Peter Pizarro, London Raysor, Lyric Raysor, Willie Reeves, Aidan Rivera, Omar Stewart, Lincoln Wellington
Success Academy Bronx 2 (4th Grade, A League) – Coach Abdul Sulaiman
Jaylin Campbell, Cassano GoodLuck, Raymond Hill, Troy Augustus, Terrel Derrick, Mariela Ceres, Valda Ross, Brielle Moore, David King, Jeremiah Hooper, Raymond Sosa, Danny Castillo, Katie Gabrie, Lashae Cabbagestalk