Basketball mentorship program helps kids in Lincoln

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 7:28 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - LNK City of Guards is a youth basketball training program, but their mission reaches far beyond the court. It’s also a mentorship program, creating bonds over a ball.

You can catch them any day of the week over on the outside courts at 40th and South Streets. Kids start as young as 3 years old, up to those in the 12th grade.

Drilling in things like teamwork, self-discipline and leadership, Coach Tommy Johnson says that's been the goal from the start.

Coach Johnson has been surrounded by basketball his entire life. After suffering from an injury in college, he was forced to end his basketball career, but that's when he shifted things to a more deeper level, helping other upcoming basketball stars across Lincoln.

The idea for LNK City of Guards first sparked in September of 2019. Working side by side with his brother and sister, Coach Johnson trains young basketball players to be the best they can be. You'll see girls and boys of all ages and at skill levels learning basketball techniques in things like dribbling, footwork and shooting.

For Coach Johnson, he finds himself instilling abilities in these kids, ones that carry on from basketball over into real life.

"When they go back into whatever environment they're in, they have a strong character and strong foundation of morals to act on outside. So, I trust them to make right decisions off the court," says Tommy Johnson, founder of LNK City of Guards.

When the pandemic first hit, Coach Johnson knew he didn't want kids to fall behind on their skills, so he started doing Zoom sessions. LNK City of Guards is back up and running now, doing both daytime and nighttime group training sessions.

A parent whose daughter, Riley, is in the program tells 10/11 he's seen a drastic change in her both on and off the court, saying her confidence boosted to a whole new level.

Coach Johnson says these bonds don’t end when a child finishes the program but continue on throughout their lives.

"I'll forever be there for that kid, in whatever stages of life they go through. So, if they're going to middle school, to high school, to college, I'm there for them. Even if I miss part of it, I'm still there at the next stage in their life. They know they have me to fall back on," Johnson tells 10/11.

The motivation behind it all comes from childhood basketball coaches, influencing Johnson's own life in a positive way.

Some kids in the program have gone as far as placing in Nationals, playing basketball in places like Texas, Tennessee and Missouri.

Coach Johnson says it’s been a bit of a struggle finding places to practice during the pandemic. Right now, COG is in the process of getting its very own basketball gym.

If your child or one you know would like to sign up for the LNK City of Guards basketball program, you can find more information by visiting COG’s Facebook page.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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