The Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, Corps has launched a new basketball program aimed at building values alongside athleticism.
The traveling team, Waterloo Salvation, consists of varsity level players from the community who attend the corps youth center. They ended their first season with a 35-14 record.
“Our goals for the team are to not only enhance basketball skills but instill leadership and responsibility with the young men from our community who are about to step out into the world,” said Charles Masmar, youth center director and basketball coach. “We aim to build teamwork, encourage academic success and have fun.”
In order to secure a place on the team, the young men must show responsibility at school, in the community and at the corps. Eligibility is maintained through regular report card and homework checks, upholding a positive reputation and staying out of trouble with the law, in addition to attendance at every practice. Young men who are struggling are assisted in setting attainable goals with action steps to reach them.
The varsity basketball season runs April through August. The team, which is funded through donations, fundraisers and a small fee per player, enters tournaments in communities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Neb., Minneapolis, Minn., Menomonie, Wis., and Chicago, Ill. Time spent traveling to tournaments also is spent building relationships and mentoring. Some tournaments provide exposure to college coaches scouting for their teams which could open up opportunities for the team members’ futures in both sports and education.
“We are very excited about this program,” said Major Harold Poff, corps officer. “It follows our mission to provide support for youth in our community.” He hopes the team will provide a gateway for the young men to benefit from the corps programs and services, especially as it expands next season to include a ninth-grade team.
Charles concluded, “We have a lot of talent in this group, including several players who have the ability to take their talents to the collegiate level in the future. This team allows them all the opportunity to further develop their skills in a structured, encouraging, supportive environment.”