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Hoop dreams: Calgary basketball coach giving BIPOC youth a chance to play

One little Instagram post by a Calgary basketball coach to his 1,515 followers has raised more than $13,000 (and climbing) for Calgary’s basketball community.

Update: June 30 – More than $32,000 has been raised.

Dave Wilder was looking for a way to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. The long-time Genesis Basketball coach decided to jump into action by raising funds to help more BIPOC youth get back into the gym this summer.

Inspired by his friend and mentor, Genesis Basketball founder Eddie Richardson, Wilder put out a request to a few friends and family to raise about $700.  This would help gives athletes in need a fair shot of keeping pace with their teammates who could afford the private shooting time at The Lab (a facility owned and run by Genesis Basketball).

He quickly raised that and more – within a few days, he had more than $4,000.

“It felt selfish at that point not to do more because there was an obvious need for this, and people wanted a place to donate,” said Wilder.

From there, the initiative gained a fair bit more attention, with people like Ryan Gill, co-founder and partner of Cult, agreeing to match any donated funds up to $10,000. KidSport Calgary also matched 50 per cent of funds raised.

‘As privileged as privileged gets’

Funds will go directly to Genesis Basketball to give BIPOC athletes the opportunities to book private shooting time at The Lab and access to summer camps. Any leftover funds will go to their fees for the upcoming season.

“Growing up, I played any and every sport that I wanted to, I went to any and every camp that I wanted to. My parents never let me go without,” said Wilder.

“I can’t say I was spoiled, but I was as privileged as privilege gets.”

As financial planner and entrepreneur, Wilder said it would be irresponsible of him not to use his ability to help out the kids that he has coached for years. As for him, it’s not about charity, but about being an ally and helping to create equal opportunities.

“I know what Genesis has done forever, and I see firsthand the kids that get supported through the programs,” said Wilder.

More than just basketball

Manyan Tong (right, facing) said the Genesis Basketball program delivered life skills along with court skills. CONTRIBUTED GENESIS BASKETBALL

Kids like former Genesis Basketball star Manyang Tong – a current member of the Calgary Dino’s Men’s Basketball team who has just completed his first year of open studies at the University of Calgary.

As one of eight children, Tong and six of his other siblings have all either gone through, or are currently playing with, Genesis Basketball.

With the season fees around $1,500 per athlete, without the support of Genesis Basketball and mentors like Richardson, Tong said he doubts he would have found the success he currently has.

He said Richardson was a constant source of support for him when he joined the club at 15.

“As a kid, I did not really have anyone to look up to, just people I did not want to end up like,” said Tong.

Tong said that Richardson and Genesis Basketball helped him to fine-tune and refine his basketball skills, but also taught him invaluable life lessons.

With people like Wilder stepping up to the challenge of finding new ways to support BIPOC, Tong is hopeful more people will find ways to become allies.

‘Humanity seems to be standing up for itself’

With the help of KidSport, the new goal is to try and hit $20,000 before the end of the month. That’s an amount that will help Genesis Basketball make up for funds lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“More can be done and we can listen to the leaders in the community,” said Kevin Webster, executive director, KidSport Calgary.

For Wilder, he couldn’t be happier with the way his own network of friends, family and colleagues. They’ve stepped up to the plate to support the BLM movement.

“The world looks to be changing and humanity seems to be standing up for itself,” said Wilder.

“Going forward, I will be look at my privilege differently. All it takes is one camp, one coach, one teammate to change a kid’s trajectory for life.”

To donate, visit the Shaw Charity Classic website shawcharityclassic.com/donate/kidsportcalgary/