Salvation Army Sports Programs Change Young Lives

Jan 18, 2023

As a former high school basketball coach, Brandon McGary knows how to motivate young athletes.

It’s one of the things that appealed to him when he learned of an opening for a Community Center Assistant – Youth Sports at The Salvation Army Omaha’s North Corps last summer.

Now, as the coach of several junior high school-age teams – male and female – that compete in select basketball leagues, McGary gets the opportunity to instill life lessons for the budding stars on and off the court.

“Not only is this a great way to teach them the fundamentals of the game, but it’s an opportunity to get them off the streets and do something productive for their futures,” McGary said. “What I try to do is teach them about basketball but also teach them things they can apply to their lives away from sports.”

McGary spends most evenings during the week working with the players – teaching them discipline, fundamentals and strategy.

Because the gym at the North Corps location isn’t big enough for all the teams and athletes to practice together, they often move practices to Central High School.  

Then, on weekends, he coaches their games, often in front of prospective high school coaches – and ultimately, college coaches and scouts.

Most games are local, but occasionally, with his stronger teams and players, they make the rounds regionally. This weekend, he’s taking 7th- and 8th-grade players to Kansas City to compete.

“They know how to play; they’ve been playing since they were little,” he said. “I’m here to make their games better and get them noticed so they can eventually get college scholarships.”

The season runs the normal late fall to early spring schedule – concluding in March.

As the father of a former top basketball player who moved on to a collegiate career in football, McGary said he knows what he and the other volunteer coaches who help him are doing is creating opportunity and ultimately change.

“The Salvation Army is 100 percent behind me in helping these kids pursue their dreams,” he said. “In all, the basketball program at North Corps helps over 100 kids and reaches into the community to give them options.

“We’re on the right path to give the kids something special, and I want to keep growing the program to help even more kids.”

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