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UPSCALE AFTER-SCHOOL HOOPS SCORES WITH NYC PARENTS
By JENNIFER COOK
January 7, 2007
Big Apple parents, always on the prowl for new and better ways to help separate their kids from the pack, have found a new addiction: a designer after-school basketball program that does a lot more than baby-sit your little darlings. The program, called Fastbreak, uses coaches with college and pro experience to teach kids aged 7 to 13 individual and team skills and game techniques that could put them ahead of their peers come time to play in high school. It certainly isn't your dad's after-school program, run by disinterested teachers with little or no one-on-one supervision.
"It's for people who want to take the lead and be first, both in sports and in life," said Lonny Levine, founder and director of operations - who started the program so he could spend more time with his son. Connor Linden, a sixth grader who attends the Upper West Side's Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, said during one recent session that he joined so he could spend the time learning and not socializing.
"I'm doing this to learn," he said. "This complements what I can teach at home," said his father Craig Linden, who played Division I basketball and lacrosse. "[The coaches] can pick up stuff I may not see."
The designer after-school program doesn't come cheap. Levine and company charges parents $575 for a 16-session program. Flag-football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey programs cost slightly less. Girls programs are being planned. The cost hasn't stopped many from turning out. The first session, started in September, drew 70 students.
The current session has attracted more than 300, with more than 90 percent re-upping.
"I was suspicious at first because some of the other leagues are nonprofit," said Sandy Fishman, whose son is enrolled in the basketball program.
But those leagues, she said, are "coached by daddies, and the kids don't learn very much. Fastbreak has amazing technical coaching and groundwork." This season, Sean James, former NFL running back for the Minnesota Vikings, will coach flag football, and such celebrity touches impress the parents. "[The kids] come from everywhere because of the coaches," said Sherri David, another Fastbreak parent.