For more than 20 years, our New Yorker of the Week has taught underprivileged elementary school students the fundamentals of basketball — and life. John Schiumo introduces us.
Aiming high, chasing greatness, rebounding after rejection.
For the players on Team Dreamers, basketball is also about winning scholarships and fostering inclusion.
"Our mission is to make sure that kids that don’t fit in, don’t get left out, by training kids how to be coaches," said Dave Crenshaw, the New Yorker of the Week. "So beginners, girls, and the hard to handle receive extra attention and support."
Their most dedicated supporter is Coach Dave Crenshaw.
He founded Team Dreamers two decades ago at The Audubon School in Washington Heights, the same school he attended as a kid.
"This school saved my life," Crenshaw said. "This school got me into a place called Hunter College High School, and thanks to Hunter College High School I didn’t end up in jail, I didn’t end up in the gang."
"So I promised my neighborhood that if I graduated from Hunter, I was going to come back to my community and help others get on a positive path."
Crenshaw does it all for free. Players, mostly girls, learn to stay in shape and hold their heads up on the court and in life.
"Girls could do as good as boys, play basketball, and this year we are going to change what happened in the past and make something better in the future," Maya Grate, a student, said.
"He makes you laugh when you're not really happy, and he helps you with anything you need help with," Aubreanna Holmes, another student, said.
"It's almost night and day. They start with him, and you really do see a difference in the behavior," said Rosa Argelia Arredondo, the principal of The Audubon School. "You see them more cooperative, not having any kind of tantrums, really trying their best."
Crenshaw has inspired hundreds, many for the rest of their lives.
"We came from a broken home, my mom raised three of us, we were little and he carried us basically from little until we went through our teenage years all the way through college," said David Marrero, a parent and former student.
"He's allowed me to know that challenges don’t conquer you; you beat them every time," Suncerae Fredericks, another former student said. "You can dream, and your dreams can become reality."
And so, for keeping that promise to his neighborhood for more than 20 years, Dave Crenshaw is our New Yorker of the Week.