By: Dylan Tehada
As the school year kicks off, Unlimited Potential Basketball is bringing back the After School program led by Player Development Coach and Director of After School Operations, Danny LaFortune. During this school year, UPB will be teaching the game of basketball to schools including Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Daniel Webster and Franklin Roosevelt Elementary all of which are located in Daly City. After a successful turnout in the program’s inaugural year in 2022, LaFortune looks to build on his early success as the leader of this program and spread his joy for the game of basketball.
LaFortune has already seen major strides in the After School Program as UPB has expanded to four schools this school year compared to just two in the previous year. He will be attending After School clinics four times a week accompanied by other UPB player development coaches. He is excited to have more player development coaches by his side assisting in the program and is looking forward to making a positive impact on the Daly City community by teaching the game he loves.
As a player development coach at UPB, LaFortune has learned a great deal about connecting with athletes of all ages and teaching basketball in both a fun and informative way. During these after school sessions, LaFortune embraces teaching athletes who have never picked up a basketball before the most because of the progression in their skillset and dedication to the game that he gets to witness. He strives to strike a balance between providing structure and also fostering a fun and welcoming environment especially for those who are new to the game.
“Having fun is the best way to go about it because then [the athletes will] connect basketball with themselves [by] just having fun with their friends in the After School Program,” LaFortune said.
Here at UPB we truly believe that everyone no matter their background or experience playing basketball can realize that their potential is unlimited. LaFortune embraces the After School Program in particular because he gets the opportunity to instill this growth mindset through his mentorship. He believes what makes the After School Program special is the wide range skill levels of the athletes who participate. While everyone might not have the most basketball experience like the athletes who come into the UPB facility, he is inspired to have the opportunity to expose the children to the power of team sports and basketball in particular.
“Through this After School Program, we're reaching so many kids, and we can make a difference with these kids who have never been on a sports team and don't know what it's like. Kids might be scared to start it [at first], but when we show up we show them how fun the game can be,” LaFortune said.
While LaFortune is focused on the growth of the athletes he mentors, he has also noticed a great deal of growth in his skillset as a player development coach. When the After School Program began last year, LaFortune had just begun his coaching journey and since then he has learned a great deal about how to communicate and connect with his athletes. With just over a year under his belt, he feels more comfortable than ever teaching athletes of all ages and skill levels and is excited to continue growing and developing as a coach.
LaFortune foresees a great deal of growth for the After School Program and strives to continue expanding to new schools and communities in the Bay Area. In just the second week of this year’s program, LaFortune is excited by the turnout and the feedback he is receiving about the impact he and his fellow player development coaches are making. His overall goal as After School Director: Make the biggest impact he can.
“We can expand to different times, different areas, all that stuff. We could just reach more people that way, so I think that’s obviously the goal,” LaFortune said.
Julius Randle has been the epitome of constant growth and improvement season after season since his debut in 2014. After an impressive 2022-2023 season with the Knicks averaging 25.1 points per game on 46% shooting, Randle seeks to continue building on last season’s success and contributing to a winning franchise. Although the start of the Knicks’ season has not gone exactly to plan, Randle has showcased his veteran poise and innate ability to continue elevating his game as the long NBA season treads on.