Milbank Flyers Get a New Look, in New York Times Story, Slideshow and Video

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There are youth basketball teams and there are basketball programs. The difference, according to Roosevelt Byers, is that to run a basketball program, you must consider how a child is progressing on and off the court.

Such is the case for the team that Head Coach Byers (better known as “Coach Rose”) leads, the Milbank Flyers, a group of dozens of players organized by grade, from third to ninth, who meet as part of the after-school programming at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center. At Milbank, which provides social, recreational, educational and health programs for hundreds of children and families in Central Harlem, parents are not charged a fee – which Coach Rose says can run from $300 to $400 elsewhere – for the nearly yearlong basketball season. Every child makes the team and gets a chance to play.

Last spring, as the 2011-2012 season was winding down, the 7th grade boys team was having a fantastic run, qualifying for a national tournament to be held in Prussia, PA. But something was off: “They were a good team that didn’t look good,” Coach Rose says.

So Coach Rose called on the Neediest Cases Fund to purchase uniforms for the post-season playoffs.  With just $150, the 7th grade team was outfitted for the tournament. They traveled to Pennsylvania and ended up in 17th place nationally for the season.

Read the New York Times story about the Flyers, see a slideshow and watch a short video about this amazing group of students and players.