CROWN HEIGHTS — If you will it, they will come.
That's been the story of Game On Brooklyn, a plucky new nonprofit offering Crown Heights kids an action-packed summer full of lay-ups and typing practice, as well as the opportunity to give back to a rapidly-changing community.
"I used to work for New York Cares ... and I was working with [MS 353] to enhance some of their public spaces, particularly their basketball courts," said coach and co-founder Lia Papazoglou, 25. "They didn’t have a basketball coach, so it fell into our laps, this opportunity to get involved."
Papazoglou, who lives less than a block from the school, said she and Dwayne Harmon, 30, both former collegiate athletes and avid basketball players, were inspired to keep coaching kids there over the summer, despite already juggling fulltime jobs.
"We had to make it work with our day to day schedules," Harmon said of the project. "[Before,] it was 40 regular hours and 40 in the school at least."
Since April, the pair have devoted themselves fulltime to the program, which will offer 30 local students the opportunity to play and learn five days a week at St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf on Eastern Parkway and Classon Avenue. When they're not on the court, kids will be coached on academic skills, or urged out into the community to volunteer.
"It's a challenging summer course that we have for basketball — it’s going to take a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment," Harmon said. "We’ll have games on Saturdays and we’re in two different tournaments, soon to be five, so it’s six to seven days a week of engagement."
Due to limited space, the pair will host tryouts Thursday through Saturday of next week.
"The tryouts are not to have the most elite program," Papazoglou explained. "We're looking for a good attitude."