Lynchburg basketball program recognized as Best New Program

Hill City Hoops started after double shooting at Younger Park in 2016

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A local basketball program is being recognized by the Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) for helping at-risk youths. Hill City Hoops was created by community members and police after a double shooting last year.

Over the summer, 14-year-old Justice Haskins had a lot of things he could do to stay out of trouble. But he says playing basketball with other kids was his best option. 

"It's been like four to five kids been shot over gang violence and all that,” Justice said.

A double shooting in 2016 and other violent incidents involving teenagers had community members and police wondering what could they do for Lynchburg’s young people.

"The community was in an uproar about some of the activity and it was happening in their neighborhoods. In particularly, around the neighborhood parks. They wanted us to clean up the parks try to make it a little safer,” Lt. Tony Crews said.

From a community meeting, Hill City Hoops was formed. 

"We decided we want to build better relationships with police and our youth in the area. Empower the youth. Give them the opportunity to have something to do, positive, in the community,” Tereika Grooms, coordinator of Hill City Hoops, said.

In just a year, organizers have been able to attract volunteers and more than 200 kids. Now they're being recognized, on the state level, as the best new program.

"I knew that the program was getting better and better. But I just didn't really know it was recognized,” Grooms said. 

And as Justice gets ready to try out for the basketball team at E.C. Glass High School this Monday, he is grateful to those who gave him and his friends a new and positive outlet. 

"It's good for kids to stay off the streets and it's good for them to get better at their game. So they can bring it to the school league,” Justice said.

Coordinators say they need volunteers and sponsors for 2018. To learn more on how to help or participate, go to www.lynchburgparksandrec.com.

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