By Jake Mattleman, Session 3 head basketball coach. Coach Jake was a counselor and assistant basketball coach during our inaugural summer in 2010 and proud returns to camp this summer!
I’ve got one gigantic duffle bag, one sleeping bag, one pillow, and one racing mind- anxiously waiting at the Raleigh airport. I get picked up and start the drive to the mysterious American Hebrew Academy (AHA), speaking only when spoken to, silent in fear. While I was 19 years old and a hired counselor, in that moment I really felt around 7- like a young boy heading to overnight camp for the first time without his parents. The jitters only heightened as we approached the gates of AHA, the vast and luxurious campus we’d call home for the summer. After getting settled in my room for entirely too long, I mustered the courage to emerge. I was met by my fellow counselors who to my delight were welcoming, warm, and thoughtful. I met the rest of the staff, highlighted by Director Randy “Big Daddy” Colman and my dorm parent Herb- all gregarious, ready to tackle the challenge that awaited our group.
I imagine we were all a bit scared, wondering how we would establish a precedent and foundation for 6 Points Sports Academy to persist. There were little boundaries to our responsibilities- we simply did whatever we thought was right, contributed in any way possible, and worked as a team to provide the best experience for campers. New ideas were discussed, problems were solved on the fly, and relationships strengthened and became deep. Without direct intention, we created a special place the entire staff felt deeply connected with. I left camp with a sense of growth, accomplishment, service, a newfound connection to Judaism and close relationships- the jitters had certainly subsided.
Fast forward to the following year, I was deciding whether to return to 6 Points as a counselor. While I had gained so much from my initial experience and desired to continue to build on the progress made with my campers, I decided that new challenges awaited. I worked with Urban Youth in several different capacities, helping dozens of students attend college through Bruce Wells Scholars Upward Bound in Worcester, MA where I was studying Sociology and Education at Clark University. My work consistently highlighted the power and necessity of strong community, for which 6 Points served as a perfect model. My camp experience was always in my mind.
In addition to empowering urban youth, basketball was always on my mind and this led to my creation of Clark University Club Basketball. I coached and played in the team’s 7 games in our first season and continued to coach the team for 2 years after graduating. I frequently relied on the principles instilled in me by Coach Danny Herz, my basketball mentor at 6 Points. Having established a culture from scratch at 6 Points, I was comfortable taking the personal initiative to do the same in my own endeavors.
Fast forward to present day, my passion for basketball has led me to my current position of Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Lesley University. In my interview for the position, I discussed my relationship with Coach Herz at length, citing his mentorship, emotional intelligence and mastery of motivation. As a coach, I’ve learned to approach each day with great intentions, to be a fair and confident leader, and ensure my players respect the game. My new position helped me reunite with Coach Herz and eventually return to 6 Points, the place that gave me my first basketball coaching position. I’m motivated in my return to the loving, supportive community and to give back to the place that provided such a strong foundation for me. I couldn’t be more excited to coach basketball during Session 3 and help create a wonderful experience for all once again.