Photo Courtesy: Alex D'Addese

Bringing youth basketball to TO

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By Chris Blanchette

When Ryerson women’s basketball assistant coach Kareem Griffin isn’t coaching one of the best CIS basketball teams in the country, he’s spending his time organizing and coordinating events that showcase some of the Greater Toronto Area’s brightest basketball talent.

Over the last four years, through his organization, Incharge Sports and Entertainment, Griffin has been finding ways to engage with the community and help to grow the sport of basketball in the GTA.

Among the events that Incharge runs includes “Shoot for the Cure,” a showcase for girl’s basketball. The event is run in the fall and all of its proceeds are donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Griffin says that they are also going to be organizing an all-star game for high school girl’s basketball some time in the near future.

“I’ve been around the game of basketball for 15 or 16 years, so I know the basketball community and I saw that there was a need for events to be produced. So a couple of my colleagues and I created this organization,” said Griffin.

Incharge also runs basketball camps during the dead spots of the year, such as over Christmas break, March break and in the summer. It’s through these camps that they are able to stimulate youth development through basketball theirv involvement in the sport.

With the popularity of basketball in Canada at an all-time high and more Canadian stars in the NBA and the NCAA than ever before, Griffin feels that in order to grow the game further, athletes will need to be getting opportunities to bring their skills to a wider audience.

“The way that things are going for basketball in Toronto and in this country, we have to start exposing our athletes a little bit better,” Griffin said. “These events give an opportunity to people like yourself or students who go to Ryerson (or anywhere else) who want experience in the field of sports.”

Griffin joined the Ryerson women’s basketball team as an assistant coach two years ago when head coach Carly Clarke gave him the opportunity to coach alongside her. Griffin had been coaching at the Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute but ultimately made the decision to take a year off to transition to university-level coaching.

Since arriving at Ryerson, Griffin has seen a winning culture become stabilized, as Ryerson teams have begun to thrive in their new home at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The women’s team has gone from a first round playoff knockout to a legitimate OUA championship and CIS championship contender, after finishing first in the OUA East this year with a 16-3 record.

“I’m heavily engrained in the basketball community. Prior to 2010, I never would have come to a Ryerson Rams game,” Griffin said. “But now with this building being renovated and built for Ryerson, and the historical aspect, it has really changed the scope of basketball.”

Griffin says the Mattamy Athletic Centre is a great place for athletics to grow in Toronto. And as the popularity of basketball in Canada continues to grow, so too will the hype surronding the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team and Incharge Sports and Entertainment.

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