On Friday November 17, Toronto Community Housing in partnership with the University of Toronto, First Books Canada, the Ontario Basketball Association and Nike Canada concluded its 2017 season of Midnight Madness basketball.
Youth from six Toronto Housing communities arrived by school bus to the University of Toronto Athletic Centre to play the championship game. The six week program combines both physical and personal development, has brought out youth every Friday to the University of Toronto campus to learn from coaches, mentors and guest speakers before competing in their favorite sport.
The evening included a guest speaker and a group dinner. After dinner, the youth heard from Nathaniel Virgo, a University of Toronto alumnus who spoke to them about the power of setting goals and dreaming big.
As the first in his family to go to post-secondary school Virgo shared his experience of being a young man from of a visible minority group going to University and the challenges of balancing school with the rigorous demands of his varsity volleyball team and a part time job.
He said “When I was in high school I wanted to play Volleyball, every single day I had to make myself a volleyball player. I had to watch more volleyball, I had to play more volleyball, I had to do more…. Whatever means the most to you, write it down then make sure everything you do is going towards that. If you want to be a basketball player, you have to do everything in your power to be a basketball player.”
Guest speakers from previous weeks included Harvard graduate, entrepreneur and former resident of Jane and Finch, Chris Samdeo as well as Toronto basketball star and Raptors Assistant Coach Jamaal Magloire, who all shared their wisdom with the young audience.
On the court Yonathan Abraham from Gilder/Gordonridge had this to say about the competition. “I’m very excited to be here, it’s a humbling moment. We’re playing against Jane and Finch, they are a really good basketball team and we have to respect that but everyone here is good. Goal today is first to have fun, second to take advantage of this opportunity.”
First to play were the ANS Warriors who faced off against East Mall, across from them, players from Lawrence Heights battled against 1021 Birchmount. After tying the first championship game, Jane and Finch came out as the winner marking their 3rd championship victory in a row.
Speaking to the sense of community that Midnight Madness basketball brings to the youth, Veronica Harris, representative from the Ontario Basketball Association said that the program gives them a safe space to play and have fun. Everyone is here for the same reason, they love the game and they want to get better.”
The theme chosen for fall season was #NEXTLEVEL, it reflects the goal of the program, to teach these youth important skills, and discover within themselves the confidence to take their goals to the next level.
Whether in sports, school or business, Justin Ahn, Sports and Camp Coordinator, believes that the lessons they learn at Midnight Madness can expand into other aspects of their lives “Sports can make you stronger as a person and as a team, that’s what MMB17 is about.”
Congratulations to Jane and Finch for finishing first and a huge thanks to all the players, coaches, volunteers and staff for helping make the 2017 MMB season a success!
Special shout out to our partners at the Ontario Basketball Association who helped provide the team jerseys and Nike Canada, who celebrated the youths’ dedication to the program with a special gift. The participants received a shirt, knapsack and a brand new pair of Kyrie Irving basketball shoes.