Boca Hoops is a youth basketball association in Boca Raton, FL, that provides a comprehensive basketball program for the children of the Boca Raton metropolitan area. The inaugural season in 1989 started with coed teams comprised of 340 children (4 divisions). At present, the enrollment has reached over 1350 children (Over 400 girls and over 900 boys; 200 coaches and 10 age divisions). Boca Hoops started as a PCA partner in 2005- that's 13 years as a PCA partner!
At this point, all Boca Hoops coaches are certified by Positive Coaching Alliance, and they utilize certified high school referees to guarantee the highest quality coaching and officiating. Over the years, teamwork, sportsmanship, and teaching have become cornerstones of the program creed.
In 2003, Boca Hoops established the High-Five Division: a division of the Boca Hoops Recreation Basketball Program designed to enable the children and young adults with disabilities to participate in the game of basketball. Each child of this division has a B-Ball Buddy that works with that child to enable them to learn the skills of basketball and to learn sportsmanship and teamwork, with PCA principles at the center.
The athletes with disabilities will experience the enjoyment of the game of basketball as part of the Boca Hoops Family. For this program, they emphasize the motto:
High-Five is about:
The High-Five division was the brainchild of a native New Yorker transplanted to the area named Gary Cohen. Cohen approached Boca Hoops Founder Dr. Jody Forstot in 2002 with the idea to provide an athletic outlet for kids who were differently-abled, and without a place to play organized sports in the area. In other words, Cohen wanted to provide positive coaching for all.
Cohen was struck by the siblings of athletes he had coached, who until that time, had no opportunities other than to watch their siblings and friends compete. Cohen immediately tapped into his growth mindset, noting "There’s no point in bringing this problem to the table if you can’t identify a solution."
Cohen admitted he thought Forstot wouldn’t go for the idea, but a plan that had been hatching for years in his mind was given a green-light without any hesitation from Dr. Forstot.
Currently, the program has 16 teams, comprised of both 80 athletes and 80 B-Ball Buddies, ranging in age from 14 to young adults. Both Cohen and Forstot hope to grow the program significantly in the coming years.
Volunteers who have participated in High-Five have described the experience as one of the most significant in their young lives. Cohen says he asks but one thing of his volunteer buddies:
“A selfless act of kindness.”
The effect of the High Five program is felt beyond the confines of the Boca Raton area as well. Athletes and coaches hail from Broward, Miami-Dade, Martin, and Palm Beach counties as well. It is this marriage of choosing a path of character development for all athletes in partnership with PCA, and a desire to increase the opportunities for differently-abled athletes that makes Boca Hoops continue to thrive and grow after decades of success.