The Douglass Panthers

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The Panthers’ Winning Tradition Continues!

Practice, teamwork and an emphasis on academics are a winning combination for The Children’s Aid Society’s girls’ basketball teams, the Douglass Panthers. The Panther teams, led by Coach Marvin "Hammer" Stevens, are recognized citywide as a true presence in girls’ basketball. A strong academic emphasis is included in the basketball program’s activities — getting into college is as big a goal as winning games. Basketball is seen as a tool to communicate a message of empowerment, academic achievement and self-esteem in order to expand girls’ horizons.

Crowds of supportive parents and community members often gather at Children’s Aid’s Frederick Douglass Center in Harlem to watch the girls’ basketball teams practice. Younger children, both boys and girls, scrutinize the action as the girls charge hard up and down the floor and take shots.

And they’re winners! In April 2007, the Panthers traveled to Fairfax, VA for the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Tournament of Champions and came home victorious. Competition was stiff, with teams from across the country competing. The girls age 15 and under team won all four of their games, as did the 13 and under team. The 12 and under team won three of four games. Coach Stevens was thrilled with the teams' performances and said that this marks the first time that three Panther teams have done so well in a national competition.

In 2006, three Panther teams – for ages 13 and under, 14 and under and 16 and under – all qualified for the AAU National Championships, and the 14 and under team won the prestigious Gym Rat Challenge in Albany, NY against 104 teams.