Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Men’s basketball supports youth basketball camp in Cambridge

The Emerson men’s basketball team visited the Cambridge Basketball Lab on Wednesday, Nov. 8. (Photo courtesy of Matt Meyersohn)

As the Emerson men’s basketball team continued preparing for their season, they decided to take an opportunity to give back. The team spent their Wednesday night at the Cambridge Basketball Lab, a co-ed basketball and mentorship program for Cambridge youth established this past summer. The camp is run by Matt Meyersohn, the former Community Relations Director for the Boston Celtics.

The “Lab” is the gym of John Tobin Elementary School and is free to students of Cambridge Public Schools. Their website noted how this is much more than a hoops camp: “it drives equity of opportunity for any Cambridge student regardless of family income. It’s a best-in-class, tech-infused, basketball and leadership development training facility that is welcoming, challenging, and inclusive for every young person that walks through our doors.”

Meyersohn established Cambridge Basketball Lab because he was frustrated that kids didn’t have a space to develop their skills.

“Kids with money, kids out in the suburbs were paying private trainers to go work them out. And a lot of kids in Cambridge didn’t have that opportunity,” Meyersohn said. “From an equity lens, it really bothered me that there wasn’t a place for someone who loves basketball to really develop their skills and improve.”

“We started this as a means to make sure that everybody had a safe place to go every night,” he continued.

Meyersohn also hired 12 coach-mentors from the Cambridge area to serve as role models for the players and develop relationships with them.

Sophomore forward/center Asher Gardiner said the opportunity came about from his “Sports and Soft Power” course taught by Charles Steinberg.

“[Steinberg] connected me with Joe Bradley, who is the Director of Communications for the Worcester Red Sox,” Gardiner said. “And he put me in touch with Matt. […] He was excited to get some volunteers out, because he has to pay these coaches. So getting some guys who are playing basketball right now to come out and help, it’s a big assistance for him and his camp.”

Gardiner and first-year guard Shay Roban visited the camp last week. He said he wanted to bring the rest of the team along as a group bonding activity.

“All of us are from a different part of the country, so it’s nice to give back to the community we’re a part of now,” he added.

Growing up, Gardiner was exposed to hoops early on, as his parents owned a professional basketball team in New Zealand.

“I was a part of these camps, going through all of these drills as a kid,” he said. “And now, being able to give back to these kids, who don’t get the same experiences brings great joy to me.”

Meyersohn enjoyed having members of the Emerson basketball team volunteering their time before their season began.

“It’s so much fun seeing a group of college kids come through. There’s a lot being asked of college student-athletes—academics and athletics, watching film, workouts, and everything else,” he said. “For them to come and volunteer says a lot. Kids are really excited to see college athletes in the flesh. A lot of our kids talk about wanting to play in college one day, and now they’re getting the chance to hang out with college athletes live and in-person.”

Sophomore guard Brendan McNamara noted how the outing was a “great team bonding experience.”

“It’s always about giving back to the community,” he added. “And there’s a lot of young kids aspiring to both play college basketball and continue to take basketball seriously. Using our experience and basketball knowledge to give back is an opportunity that I’m glad we seized, and [I] hope we can do more of it in the future.”

Gardiner still hopes to be involved with the camp in some capacity, even as the team’s season begins.

“I’m definitely still interested in helping [Meyersohn] out with different aspects, even if I can’t get there physically,” he said. “I hope to be able to help promote his camp, market it, [and] do whatever I can to help this camp out.”

Going forward, Meyersohn outlined the main goals he has for Cambridge Basketball Lab.

“I want to have a permanent home, where we can invest in shooting machines and other state-of-the-art equipment where kids know they can come all the time,” he said. “And continue to build on the number of hours, the number of kids we serve, and do a better and better job of taking care of our young people.”

Still, he wants Emerson Basketball to remain involved with the program.

“The high school season is about to start, maybe there’s ways to come over and do some work,” he suggested. “And throughout the year and for years to come, we’d love to continue to develop the relationship between Emerson and Cambridge Basketball Lab to see ways for it to grow.”

Meyersohn encouraged those interested in supporting the program to donate at their website, CambridgeBasketballLab.org.

“It means a lot to us,” he said. “Every 100 dollars is an extra hour that we’re able to pay a full coaching staff to be here to serve our kids.”

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About the Contributor
Jordan Pagkalinawan
Jordan Pagkalinawan, Kasteel Well Bureau Chief
Jordan Pagkalinawan (he/him) hails from Burbank, California, and serves as The Beacon’s Kasteel Well Bureau Chief. A sophomore journalism student with a minor in Sports Communication, he was the sports editor for the Fall 2023 semester and a sports staff writer for most of his first year. Overseeing The Beacon’s operations in the Netherlands, Jordan is committed to elevating high-quality pieces of narrative and multimedia journalism. When he isn’t working for the Beacon, Jordan can be found listening to various genres of music, playing, watching, and writing about basketball, and exploring local bookstores and cafes.

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