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Team Nikos Basketball Academy

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A Slam Dunk in Philanthropy

I meet people in the strangest of circumstances, sometimes bringing influential people into my life that change the course or direction of a current project. I had one of those situations recently while in a plane on the way to California.

A guy sat next to me, of course being the last guy on the plane, ruining my chance of having the whole row of seats to myself for once. The conversation that followed was well worth the loss of extra leg room. His name is Steve Williams, and he has been giving back to his community for the past 10 years through a foundation he founded out of his love for basketball.

A young man with drive

Steve moved from Wyoming to California to play Division 1 basketball at UC Riverside. After graduating with a degree in Education, he went on to teach at Saddleback Valley Christian Schools and Saddleback College and coached at both high school and the collegiate level.

Steve’s passion for the game was inherited from growing up in a basketball family. “Everyone played – cousins, uncles, my mom, I’ve always loved the game.” Education came naturally, with his love for coaching and mentoring kids. He was concerned that youth organizations across the country didn’t teach some core mechanics of the game and talented kids were not playing up to their potential.

Steve decided to create an Academy that would teach them the foundations of the game and establish a strong base of techniques for any child with an interest in basketball. With this in mind, he created the Team Nikos Basketball Academy. With his partner Jameel Muhammad, Steve runs Recreational National Junior Basketball League (NJB) that serves over 1,500 kids year round in Orange County and Long Beach.

The Alley-Oop of giving back

To run the Academy, which has operated as a 501c3 since its inception in 2007, a 60,000 sqf. state of the art complex was designed and constructed in Ladera Ranch, California, in August of 2016. The facility houses 48,750 sqf. of court space and is a fully air conditioned building offering ample spectator seating at all 8 courts, large screen TV’s and an all-star cafe for tournament play.

 

Coach Steve is big on community and not so big on publicizing his philanthropy and good heartedness. (Hint… enter Will to shout from the rooftops). This is no ordinary guy; through the foundation they fund the camp for those individuals who cannot afford the fees for the camp. Most years it is upwards of $100,000 of camp costs, which the Academy covers in an effort not to have talented kids go without the same opportunities as their peers. What sets Steve apart is that no one knows it’s happening, they just step in and give back.

As we talked recently I asked him about his silent philanthropy, to which he said, “I really never think about it as a form of advertising what we do here, we just do it because it’s the right thing to do.” Words to live by and learn from.

It truly was a pleasure meeting this young philanthropist and hearing his story, allowing me the opportunity to highlight another CEO doing what he can do to give back to his community and humanity. Without a word.

About William F. Mullins

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