The Summit YMCA’s 14U Summit YMCA AAU Team won the league championship by defeating South Brunswick’s Next Level team. The tournament was held at Drew University March 1-3, 2013 with ten teams participating. The team’s experience speaks to the power of athletic endeavors to change and transform lives, especially within the framework of the YMCA’s youth coaching philosophy which has a focus on sportsmanship, team work, commitment and perseverance. The victory was particularly special for Coach Douglas who has been coaching the YMCA’s travel team for the past 13 years and has been to the championship with his 12U team seven times but has never won the tournament.
Coach Kareem Douglas said, “In my last 13 seasons of coaching the Summit YMCA team, this was my most challenging experience because the competition between the kids on this team was intense and they treated each other more like competitors than teammates. Most of the kids came to each practice and game wanting to be the star. My trying to lead by example and model Y values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility didn’t seem to be sinking in. I tried every approach I knew, but I could not get them to understand that there is no ‘I’ in team.
The championship game was so emotional for me because I saw the message of trust, care and respect for each other finally sink in. We came together in the quarter finals down 20 against our rivals Madison with a big double overtime win. The final game against Next Level was a nail-biter, but this 14U team won the championship by 3 points, playing against kids who were physically much larger. To watch them encouraging, high-fiving, hugging and celebrating each other’s success was more meaningful to me than actually winning the trophy. That’s what the YMCA and youth sports can do!”
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