Trying a sport for the first time can be challenging for any kid. Feeling confident about where to stand, when to shoot and what to do can be tough, especially for a child with autism.
But with the help of an encouraging basketball coach and a positive atmosphere at i9 Sports®, 11-year-old Zenaiya’s confidence soared. Playing basketball hasn’t just made her a fan of the game, it’s made her feel like she can do anything.
“She refers to herself as a ‘baller’ and has more confidence than ever,” said Zenaiya’s mother, Iraida. “We’ve realized that it would be a disservice to her if we ever tried to set limits on what she can do!”
When Zenaiya first started playing basketball, she struggled to understand specific plays and the structure of the game. But after she met Coach TJ in an i9 Sports® clinic, things changed for her.
“Her coach really broke down the game for her and explained things,” said Iraida. “She’s very literal and he took the time to figure out how she’s wired.”
One of the differences between i9 Sports® and other youth sports programs is that we build in opportunities for teaching moments during game play.
“He would stop in the middle of a drill to work directly 1 on 1 with her and that made a world of difference,” Iraida said. “He was heaven-sent.”
It’s not hard to get Zenaiya motivated for game day now.
“On Saturdays, I never have to tell her to go get ready for the game. She’s always ready to go with her sneakers and jersey and can’t wait to go each week.”
Seeing Zenaiya’s success on the court and her growth in confidence helped Iraida feel great as a parent.
“I just felt really accomplished to see her so happy and so confident,” she said. “I felt like as a parent that I was doing something right.”
Iraida decided to try i9 Sports® after finding that many other youth sports options in the area emphasized competition too much for her liking.
“When I was researching local programs, it seemed like everything was so focused on winning and losing or on some kind of championship and I didn’t think that would be a good fit. Zenaiya is all about positivity,” said Iraida. “i9 Sports®’ focus on positive influence and sportsmanship is what gained my interest.”
For Iraida, it’s not just the emphasis on positivity that makes i9 Sports® a good choice for her family, it’s also the commitment of one day a week.
“Other programs want you to do something three times a week but I’m a very busy mom, she said. “We home school Zenaiya and I like that this is just one day a week.”
“I would tell any parent considering i9 Sports® that the experience is so positive that there’s really no way to go wrong.”
If you are interested in a program that focuses on Helping Kids Succeed in Life Through Sports®, you can find a program near you here!