When we decided to run the Hoops and Hope Tour we were hoping to impact communities through the game of basketball. We were hoping to give back. When we left Flint, Michigan we felt like they had given everything to us, and we were the ones who had been given hope.
We partnered with The Dribble Stick Academy, a legit basketball facility that trains kids year round, including numerous Division I basketball players. The two partners were Luke Lloyd and Joe McElroy. Luke was born and raised in Flint and has seen first hand the collapse of the economy, including the shuttering of several factories that were the lifeblood of the community. After 8 years playing professional basketball overseas he decided to come home and help rebuild Flint his way. He partnered with his good friend Joe McElroy who grew up just outside of Flint.
Luke and Joe have turned The Dribble Stick Academy from a couple of courts into a world class facility where top level training occurs year round. They push their players to the limits, and they get the absolute best out of them. More importantly, they teach each and every player how to grow as a person. The discipline they instill in their players is a remarkable feat because they do not berate players with constant yelling. In fact, just the opposite. They are tough, yet they are teachers. They care deeply for each and every kid and all they want is for those kids to reach their potential.
The kids we met in Flint were the most respectful, caring, and hard-working kids we have seen. This is directly attributable to Luke and Joe. They have instilled a culture of hard work and respect throughout their facility, and the kids work hard to keep this culture in place. They encourage each other to pick up trash, cheer when another player is struggling. To sum it up, "They just get it."
We were honored to run a camp with such a great group of people and learned so much during our three days in Flint. Luke even took us to a famous burger place in downtown Flint called The Torch. We highly recommend it.
In addition to molding the youth of Michigan, Luke and Joe hope to lure jobs back to Michigan with their invention, The Dribble Stick. It's a tool to help players with their ball handling and it is clearly doing its job (http://dribblestick.com/). Maybe they can begin getting it produced in Flint and fill those dormant factories.
Whatever it is that happens in the future, One on One Basketball knows the community of Flint and the surrounding suburbs are in good hands with people like Luke Lloyd and Joe McElroy around to help.
For further reading, here is a newspaper article written about the Hoops and Hope Tour: http://www.mlive.com/sports/flint/index.ssf/2013/08/stop_in_flint_an_eas...