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Local program helps kids play competitive sports for free

Youth athletic programs can come with a hefty pricetag, but a program in Rochester is providing an affordable option.

Posted: Jun 19, 2019 9:25 AM
Updated: Jun 19, 2019 12:21 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - From gear, to participation fees, to travel, competitive athletic teams for young people can get expensive. According to a Chicago Tribune report, 60% of Americans spend $1,200 to $6,000 per kid for sports programs every year. 

That's why local basketball coach, Kamau Wilkins, started Leadership Through Basketball. The program allows young men to play competitive basketball for free. 

Wilkins said growing up, his parents couldn't always afford all the teams he wanted to play on, so he knows what it's like to be in that position. But it shouldn't be an experience kids miss out on because of finances, since kids can learn a lot about life from being on the court. 

"Work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship being a steward to your community. We learn those lessons through athletics," Wilkins said. 

As the title "Leadership Through Basketball" suggests, the team isn't just about scoring baskets. It's also about community engagement. 

The program gets the players involved in the community through a number of activities. On Monday, the team helped work on a community garden in Rochester. 

"The idea is, if we can create young leaders in our community, we can keep them here and they can grow to be our civic leaders," Wilkins said. "Our mayors, councilmen, our school board members. The leadership aspect is something we should all be learning through youth athletics."

The team is holding a fundraiser on Wednesday, June 19 at the Italian restaurant, Casablanca. From 4-8pm people can buy a $10 ticket and get a meal and a drink. The proceeds go right into the basketball program. 

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