Bayside’s Heart and Hustle Basketball training program has quickly grown in popularity since it first came into fruition in the summer of 2020. Kids between the ages of 4 and 15 are provided with a great opportunity to develop and hone their skills through the training offered.
According to Heart and Basketball founder Steve Blum, he wanted to create an outlet for exercise and entertainment for kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic hit a bit of a lull in the summer of 2020, Blum quickly started putting together the organization. Having spent 25 years teaching computer science as well as coaching basketball at P.S. 205, Blum was able to get coaching assistance from former students and colleagues and notify parents of his students about the program.
The program initially began with kids aged 7-15, but has now expanded to ages 4-15. Additionally, the number of coaches for the program has dramatically risen. Blum estimates that he has 8-10 coaches on hand each week and a total of around 20 coaches right now. Some of these coaches include current and former high school and college basketball players. Even former members of the program from its first year remain active in it as coaches.
“We’re not geared toward only cultivating top kids,” Blum said. “We want to really focus on the sportsmanship and putting the fun in fundamentals. It’s an amazing feeling when you create something from scratch and see it grow so much in such a short period of time.”
The program was initially intended to be for summers, but the outpouring from the kids who took part in it early on was so positive that Blum decided to keep it going throughout the school year on weekends. Initially, the program had to be put on hold during the winter since they didn’t have access to indoor facilities at the time. However, they gained access last winter, allowing the program to run year-round.
With approximately 24 kids taking part in the program each week in 2022, the number is twice as much as 2021. As the amount of staff and kids keeps growing, Blum has expressed the aspiration to eventually expand the basketball training program beyond Bayside. He described this dream as having Heart and Hustle Basketball eventually becoming the Tiger Schulmann’s of basketball.
“I’m happy to give the young coaches the opportunity to work for the summer,” Blum said. “We really have an amazing staff. It’s very rewarding to be involved in this.”
The first basketball session is free for the kids. Other than that, the price and time of the sessions vary based on age group. Kids 4-6 years of age play in 45-minute sessions. All other age groups take part in 90-minute sessions. Sessions can be purchased in five packs at $100 for kids aged 4-6 and $200 for 7-15 year-olds. These sessions can be chosen and don’t need to be consecutive. Individual sessions are $25 per day for 4-6 year-olds and $50 for 7-15 year-olds.
The mission of Heart and Hustle Basketball is to impact young athletics and families through training focused on respect. A large emphasis is placed on personal growth as the program works to help the physical and emotional well-being of each participant.