The basketball court located in Lansburgh Park is more than a place to play pick-up basketball. For many boys in the community, it was the catalyst that helped to train 22 of them in the fundamentals and intricate details of basketball form and play. The idea of working with young people in a sport that encourages teamwork, leadership skills, and sportsmanship was the brainchild of Coach Alysha Berry.
Berry is a recent graduate of Riverdale Baptist High School and a member of its girls basketball team’s starting line-up. She ended her high school basketball playing time at Madison Square Gardens by competing in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament this past April. That experience, playing on live television and winning, inspired her to offer other young people the thrill, excitement, and achievement of playing a sport you love and the opportunity to travel to various locales to compete.
Being on the court almost every day, Berry was spotted by little boys who asked her to show them how to play. Seeing their eagerness to learn an athletic skill and their ability to follow her instructions, Berry decided to form a basketball team for boys aged eight to 11. During tryouts and subsequent practices at the Lansburgh basketball court with the younger boys, many older boys watched in amazement as the 18-year-old Berry coached, taught, and encouraged the young team on how to dribble the ball, make shots, run laps, stretch, etc. The older boys asked Coach Berry if she would form a team to coach them. Of course, she agreed and the second team was formed for ages 15 and under.
Both teams, Axiom Elite Gold and Axiom Elite Silver, became the two basketball teams that were able to experience overnight travel outside of their neighborhood to play hoops. The first tournament for both teams was in Ocean City, Md. for two days. Much fun was had by all, especially during their time frolicking on the beach and making sandcastles. Their last tournament was in Roanoke, Va. this past August. Both teams learned many valuable skills and lessons while being coached by Berry; the most important of all was the ability to work cohesively as a team to achieve a collective goal.
Coach Alysha Berry and the Axiom Elite DC teams give the greatest thanks to the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly’s Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) for their financial contribution towards purchasing the basketball jerseys for the younger team. Since its inception in 1982, SWNA’s YATF continues to be instrumental in supporting many youth programs and activities in the Southwest community. For sure, the Axiom Elite basketball teams appreciate all who have contributed to YATF over the years and encourage them to continue their generous support. Coach Berry and the Axiom Elite teams would also like for the community to know that their donations are highly appreciated and truly make a difference in the lives of the young people in our neighborhood.
By: Dena Walker
Dena Walker is the Tenants Council President for Greenleaf Extension, member of both the SWNA Board of Directors and SWNA Youth Activities Task Force, as well as the maternal aunt of Coach Alysha Berry.