New Heights alum and current New York Knick Lance Thomas has generously donated 75 tickets to the program over three games. On Sunday, Feb. 4, 30 high school girls and coaches were treated to a VIP experience as the Knicks took on the Atlanta Hawks. It was a great bonding experience for our girls as they are finishing their high school basketball seasons and are gearing up for their season with New Heights that starts in March. Our juniors will begin their SAT Prep on March 12 as they plan to take the SAT for the first time in June. While some of the girls attend the same high school, many are rivals during the winter and New Heights teammates in the spring and summer. The Knicks game was a great way for them to rekindle old friendships (and friendly rivalries) and reconnect as they get ready to represent the program starting in March.
New Heights took its annual Middle School Trip on Saturday, Feb. 3. This year, the scenic location was Storrs, CT. Close to 40 middle school student-athletes boarded a coach bus at the too-early hour of 7:30 am for the trip to visit the University of Conn. Upon their arrival, the boys and girls got guided tours of the sparkling Werth Family Champions Center, where both the women’s and men’s teams practice. They visited the practice courts, got a behind-the-scenes look inside the locker rooms, weight rooms and training areas. After the tour, it was off to the UConn-Cincinnati men’s game next door at Gampel Pavilion, featuring New Heights alum and Cincy freshman Keith Williams. After the game, Keith spoke to the students about the importance of being coachable, working hard and being loyal. The group returned to the Champions Center after that to have lunch and then enjoyed a guided tour of campus, led by two senior undergraduates. The students saw the Student Center, Library and various other buildings on campus and were given the opportunity to ask questions about college life, academics, choosing a major and balancing life as a student-athlete. The exhausted group then boarded the bus back to New York City after a great day at UConn. Special thanks to the men’s and women’s staffs for providing an amazing experience to our students.
What defines success at New Heights? Often it is measured by the number of our student-athletes who graduate from high school, or the number who enter and complete college. The considerable list of alumni who are now employed by top companies, or who have achieved their dreams of playing basketball professionally is used as well. Those facts and figures are indeed compelling. They demonstrate that our College Bound program works, and show the many benefits of quality sports-based youth development initiatives. But here at New Heights, a lesser known statistic is the number of alumni who are inspired to give back to our community by working for our organization and on behalf of our mission. Over the past 12 years New Heights has proudly and enthusiastically hired dozens of program graduates – including our current Communications and Development Associate, Chelsea Baez.
Chelsea has been “on the New Heights team” in one way or another for most of her life. She came to us as a third grader through Saturday Skills, New Heights’ series of basketball clinics open to youth throughout the city. During that time she met members of our coaching staff who saw in her a promising future, and invited her to attend more formal practices. Two years later Chelsea officially joined College Bound and our 5th Grade Girls basketball team, and stayed with the program through high school graduation when she took a Team Leader position with our Student-Athlete Summer Academy. In 2015 Chelsea began working part-time while completing her degree, in the Fall of 2016 she transitioned to full-time in her current role, and epitomizes the spirit of the New Heights community.
In addition to being a vital member of the New Heights staff, Chelsea is a role model and inspiration to countless youth in New York City who are following in her footsteps. And last month her work was recognized through the “Make It Possible” campaign, sponsored by Squarespace and the New York Knicks. Highlighting Chelsea and the power of mentoring programs for young people, the following video was tweeted recently by the Knicks and features Chelsea in her own words. We’re thrilled to share it with you!
On Columbus Day, our New Heights freshmen and sophomores paid a visit to Hofstra University to tour the campus and athletic facilities.
First, Education Director Denise Harding led our students through an academic workshop. Students completed and discussed the results of a study skills diagnostic, giving them the opportunity to think about their strengths, skills in need of growth and ways to improve those skills. As many of them have hopes of playing college basketball, she emphasized the importance of improving study skills and maintaining good academic performance in order to gain admission.
Next, our students met with Admissions Dean Marie Letterii to learn what was expected to be accepted into a competitive university like Hofstra. It became clear that working hard in school now will pay off big in the future!
Our students also spoke with the Men’s Assistant Coach Mike Farrelly and Women’s Assistant Coach Denise King about the high expectations of a D1 Basketball team, both on the court and in the classroom.
Joel Angus, a New Heights Alum and current Hofstra student, spoke to the student-athletes about making decisions to prepare them for life, not just their basketball careers. As a business student about to graduate, he spoke about the importance of preparing for life after basketball.
Our kids watched the women’s team practice and saw up close the discipline and skill of college athletes. Our student-athletes were excited to see what their futures could look like if they work hard in school and at practice.
Finally, they toured the campus, including the TV studios in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications and the trading floors in the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, before heading home after a great opportunity to see the possibilities ahead of them. We are very grateful to the people at Hofstra who helped make this tour possible!
On August 16th, New Heights students spent their day volunteering at the New York Common Pantry, helping the hungry by delivering custom food orders to Harlem’s most vulnerable families.
Arriving right as the packed lunch rush began, our New Heights kids wasted no time making themselves useful throughout the building. While crowds of hungry families formed, a few students were collecting requests for meals downstairs. Meanwhile in the pantry, others began sorting healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and another group started collecting and packaging healthy options to hand-deliver to those waiting in line.
Our students demonstrated teamwork, initiative, and positive attitudes as they worked together with other volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to whittle down the line. Coordinating themselves like a well-oiled machine, our student-athletes distributed countless food items to assist people in need. Our students had a great time volunteering with the Common Pantry!
A special thanks to Adam Berkowitz for organizing this volunteer trip.