Pittsburgh youth take direction on and off the court, during Coach Wan’s Basketball League. (Photo by Jackie McDonald)

There’s a certain kind of joy that Anwan Wesley feels when he can uplift, and build confidence in Pittsburgh-area youth.

“I believe basketball is a hook to teach the youth a lot of stuff,” he said. “There’s a need. There’s not a lot of strong, positive male leadership out here these days.”

Thus, roughly five years ago, Wesley, 35, helped start the Homewood YMCA Basketball League for grades 3-12. In November 2016, he moved his teams to the Community Empowerment Association, just a block away, with a new name; Coach Wan’s Developmental Youth Basketball League.

Wesley’s 10 teams played in the gym there, but later collaborated with another coach, Jeff Marion, who had two teams of his own at the Homewood YMCA. Together, the 12-team league played games at both sites. The final games occurred in early March.

SUPPORTING THE CAUSE—Parents and the youth, collaborating to learn basketball and life fundamentals. (Photo by Jackie McDonald)

“Sports is a great way to teach those life lessons,” Wesley said. “They like to see the highlights on TV, but I tell them that there is no highlight if you don’t play. And you don’t play if you don’t do your schoolwork.”

“He’s done a great job with the kids,” added Julie Williams, director of the Homewood YMCA. “He makes a great impact on the community. He also adds special programming for the young men, and teaches life skills; the topics that are important to young men.”

Williams said Wesley takes a holistic approach to teaching the youth. “He’s a positive role model for the young men. If we had more of those types around, that would be great. The (young men) get to see him and his family up close and personal, doing positive things.”

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