YBMer of the Week: Rovalier Thompson

Rovalier D. Thompson is Founder, President, and Sr. Head Coach of Basic Basketball.  Coach Thompson, as he is called, is a former 4-year varsity basketball athlete at Artesia Sr. High and Compton Sr. High School,  and has over 10 years experience coaching youth basketball.  In 2010, Coach Thompson started Basic Basketball, a non-profit basketball program geared towards teaching the basics of basketball and showing youth how to build a solid foundation for life.  Coach Thompson stresses the importance of the “student-athlete” concept, and he encourages youth to stay focused in their efforts to succeed.

The Birth of Basic Basketball
Growing up in Compton, California, basketball was a space where Rovalier Thompson could positively interact with other young men. “There were about 5 kids who were cut from the same cloth as me.  Yet, the only time we had to hang out was during practice, and our games.  I always wished to spend more time with these guys,” says Thompson.

As a young child into adolescence, he watched his father run a youth outreach program.   He knew that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, and serve as a guiding force for African-American men.  “It started out with a vision,” says Thompson.  As a coach for his son’s recreational basketball team, he knew he wanted to create something bigger and better.

This bigger and better vision was manifested into Basic Basketball.

The Principles of Basic Basketball
This program is built on the foundation of helping African-American young men between the ages of 5-14.  Basic Basketball fosters an environment where they can be part of a team atmosphere and receive coaching and mentoring, both on and off the court.

Each week, young men come from the neighborhoods of Inglewood, Compton, Rosewood, and Carson to meet at a space where they are encouraged and motivated to not only progress in the sport of Basketball, but in all areas of their lives.

“We try to teach the young men lessons on etiquette, posture, and how to obtain good manners.  A lot of our young men come from single parent homes, and when their moms get to see how well behaved they are at games, it’s a pleasure,” says Thompson.

The coaches serve as mentors, carpool drivers, teachers, and most importantly friends.  The young men are encouraged to be social, and communicate with the coaches.

“There are times when I get a Facebook message from one of the players telling me they got a good grade on the test, or in school,” says Thompson.

The Contract
The element that sets Basic Basketball apart from similar non-profit organizations is that participants are expected to uphold a contract known as a 20×1.  This contract consists of twenty rules broken up into 4 different sections of life.  The categories are School, Home, Life, and Basketball.

Some of the rules include:

  1. School: “Education is first.”
  2. Home: “Honor my parents.”
  3. Life: “Love myself.”
  4. Basketball: “Respect my teammates.”

At any given time, the players must be able to recite the contract by heart.  This contract gives them a rule book that they can apply to themselves.  It also allows them to have something to revert to in times of havoc both in the program and out of the program.

Basic Basketball also allows the young men to get away from their environment.  The players get the chance to visit Palm Springs, Arizona, Las Vegas, and San Diego each year.  Additionally, there are several social outings where players get to enjoy a trip to the movies or restaurants as a team.

The Future of Basic Basketball
Today, Thompson upholds the mission statement he set out for Basic Basketball; “Giving this generation something the last generation gave me.”

He hopes by planting the seed in one child’s life, that child will do the same thing for another child.  A long term goal of Basic Basketball is to be a program that touches one young man from this generation to the next.

Rovalier Thompson also works with various basketball coaches of other teams, hoping to teach them to implement the values of Basic Basketball into their programs and more young African-American men.

~YBM Note~
If you want to start a venture of your own, just do it.  There are going to be trying times, and people who tell you that you can’t do it.  Have the desire and perseverance in your heart to keep the momentum going.  Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your vision!

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