MY STORY from the FundLatinos Blog
Deron Johnson has turned his passion for basketball into a passion for molding young athletes. As manager for a CBL basketball team, part of a national semi-professional exposure league, Deron helps young men between the ages of 18-25 develop their own interest and skills in basketball. He has built his “Tucson Terrors” team from a diverse group of at-risk athletes who might not otherwise have a chance to play.
“My team is a little different,” said Deron of his eclectic team members. “I work with outreach programs, juvenile departments, and the local reservations to build support and find players.”
For many of Deron’s players, the Tucson-based team is a way to get involved in something positive: “If we can get them focused, we can help mold the kids mentally and physically. It helps them work as a team, whether they use that to get a better job or develop a better relationship with their parents.” It is more than just a basketball team—it is a chance to succeed.
As an exposure league, the young men have the chance to be seen by recruiters for schools or junior colleges. “If these athletes are not pursuing education, this opportunity gives them the chance to pursue or think about it. It’s a good motivation,” said Deron of the program. Additionally, should the team win, the players get to split a $30,000 bonus.
After playing basketball in high school and at the University of Arizona, Deron went on to play professionally overseas. Over six years, he played in France, Belgium, and Taiwan. As an accomplished player, Deron has turned his efforts to coaching. His coaching experience is varied, but this was the first professional level coaching opportunity he’d come across.
As manager of the Tucson Terrors, Deron is responsible for ensuring that his players can compete. The team practices about four times a week, with twelve games total throughout the season. Half of those games are away games, which require traveling and all the associated costs. In addition, players must pay a team membership fee and purchase uniforms. Deron has already taken pay cuts so that the team members could pay less.
“One of my main goals is to buy the team, because it pays my team’s membership for three years,” says Deron. “That way, if I have a kid who can’t afford this, I can just put him on my team.”
This is where the FundLatinos community comes in. Deron hopes to raise funds for his team, many of whom are Latino young men, to help them with costs they can’t afford. Any funds collected will go toward purchasing uniforms and shoes, paying membership fees, and covering travel costs.
In supporting Deron’s efforts, we can help provide these young men with so much more than the opportunity to play basketball. For these young men, it is a chance to fulfill their dreams by becoming a part of something that will open doors to a successful future.
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