Saturday Hoops marks 20 years of serving Cincy kids

The annual Saturday Hoops program is set to kick off its summer season this May, once again offering a variety of athletic, educational and creative opportunities to young people across Cincinnati.

As it does every year, organizers will begin things with a huge community block party. Cincinnati Youth Collaborative will host the 20th Dribblethon on Saturday, May 11 at Ziegler Park in Over-the-Rhine.

The event begins at 11 a.m., with a free lunch served at noon. Activities include basketball, dancing, food, art and more.

“Dribblethon is always one of the best days of the year,” said Adam Turer, Saturday Hoops volunteer chairperson. He described it as a “celebration of another inspiring season of Saturday Hoops in the West End, Winton Hills and Avondale.”  It’s also the start of five months of weekly programming at Ziegler Park. 

“The 20th annual Dribblethon is our way of celebrating all of the hard workers and cheerful givers, both students and volunteers, by inviting their families to join us for a day full of fun,” Turer continued.

Two decades of impactful Saturday mornings

Ed Berg founded Saturday Hoops two decades ago at the Over-the-Rhine Community Center. He wanted to create a safe and fun place for kids to play basketball on Saturday mornings while also providing them with access to potentially life-changing role models and mentors.

The program started in 2004 with a half-dozen kids at a single community court and has grown into an annual staple for hundreds of Cincinnati youth at multiple sites across the city.

Today, Saturday Hoops operates as a program under CYC, which works with Cincinnati Public Schools and other districts around the region.

In addition to basketball, participating kids also take part in a variety of non-basketball activities, ranging from soccer to music and art. They can also receive help with their schoolwork, if needed.

At each summer and Saturday Hoops program, the kids involved make a pledge that stresses the importance of education and asks them to promise to avoid negative social influences that could affect their ability to achieve their dreams. 

“I matter. I control my destiny. And I AM going to make this world a better place,” the pledge states.

The epicenter of the summer program is at Ziegler Park, which opened in 2017 and has greenspace, playgrounds and a swimming pool. But young people can also enjoy the same benefits of community and volunteer interaction at three other Saturday Hoops locations – Lincoln Recreation Center in the West End, Winton Hills Recreation Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati on Washington Avenue.

This official season begins May 18 and continues through Sept. 7. All sessions go from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Saturday Hoops

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