Full name: Justin Sandler
High school graduation year: 2017
Current grade: Entering Freshman Year in Fall
School, city, state: Riverdale (New York/NY) and now Duke University
Years in Mo’ Motion: 8 – Started in Grade 4 through his internship end of Grade 12
Note from Mo: Justin and I met when he was in fourth grade and struggling with confidence and playing time with another program. I immediately noticed how smart he was by how quickly he picked up the drills. In fifth grade, I remember I had to leave practice early one session per weekend, and hand off to another coach. I told Justin all the drills and teaching points because I knew he would be able to repeat them back to the coach. Justin, who was on the team when we beat Milbank in grade 6 – a historic moment for us – had outstanding attendance and was always attentive and focused, which helps explain why he became such a strong student in high school. Justin volunteered as a coach during the school year while he was on the basketball team at Riverdale, and at our camps, where he also helped me in our business and marketing departments. This summer before he leaves to attend his first year at Duke University, he’s interning at the office where we are working on expanding our brand and reach with hopes that we can have a greater impact on those we serve. Justin is also helping out with social media and starring on our first Facebook Live series, called “Are You a Crazy Parent?” I am glad that Justin loves and appreciates all that sports has done for him as a humble person who always has a positive impact on the lives of others.
Who is your favorite basketball player and why? My favorite basketball player is either James Harden or Chris Paul. I like James Harden because of his ability to score the basketball from anywhere on the floor and he can make some of the best defenders look like they have no idea what they are doing. He has also developed his passing skills recently, which makes him even more fun to watch. I like Paul because he is so unselfish and makes everyone around him better. Even though he isn’t the biggest or strongest guy he manages to be successful and continually be an all-star.
Which college and/or pro team is your favorite and why? My favorite pro team is the Knicks even though they are a terrible franchise and will continue to be terrible for years to come. My favorite college team has always been Wisconsin because both my parents went there and we go back a lot so I almost had to root for them. Now that I will be heading to Duke, I guess I’ll be a Cameron Crazy.
When did you know that basketball was your favorite sport? (Or is it tied with another sport?) Growing up I was a huge baseball player. As a young kid and even teenager, I saw basketball as a secondary sport because baseball was everything to me. By the time I was 14-15, I was growing tired of baseball because it was slow and I had just been burnt out. I started to pick up lacrosse because it was a faster game and more fun. From the age of 15 on my favorite sport went back and forth between basketball and lacrosse, depending on which season I was in. Now being removed from my competitive athletic career, I feel as if both sports are tied.
Have you spent most of your career playing basketball only or have you played more than one sport? What sports? Yes. Baseball was probably my only main sport, however, I played tennis, basketball, and lacrosse competitively as well. At every point in my life I have been playing at least 2 if not 3 sports competitively.
What is your favorite thing to do on the basketball court? Shoot.
What is your least favorite thing to do on the basketball court? My least favorite thing is probably playing defense. This is why I like James Harden so much. I understand defense is important and you can’t win if you can’t stop the other team, but I always found offense more fun. This is why I play attack in lacrosse. I barely play any defense and get all the glory of scoring.
What is your greatest challenge on the basketball court? My greatest challenge is probably my lack of foot speed on the court. I have good hand eye coordination and a good IQ, but I am not a good athlete in terms on speed, agility, and jumping.
What other fun things do you like to do in your free time? In my free time, I love to play backyard sports. For some reason my athletic ability lends itself to these weird backyard games that combine some sports. My favorite is a game called spike ball, which is a combination of volleyball and four square played on a round circular net and a ball that is in-between the size of a baseball and basketball. I also love Ping-Pong, video games (especially NHL) and watching sports.
What are your short- and long-term goals as a basketball player? Since my competitive career is over I don’t have too many goals as a player. Hopefully, I can lead my fraternity basketball team to a championship in the intramural league at Duke. Down the road I would love to be able to play with my kid/kids and be able and beat them in 1 on 1 until they get to my current age.
Who influenced you the most in your basketball career and in what way? Feel free to pick a few people here – who had the most impact individually or collectively. I swear I’m not saying this because Mo made me or I feel obligated to, but Mo definitely has had the largest impact on my basketball and its not even close. When I made the Fastbreak B team in 4th grade (yes, this was a big deal) Mo was the one to pick me up and help out my skills. Mo is probably the single reason I continued basketball into my high school.
Can you describe your first day at Mo’ Motion? I don’t really remember my first day exactly, however, I do remember shooting a layup with my left hand for the first time, and running way more than I bargained for.
What is your favorite Mo’ Motion memory? My favorite Motion memory is probably the game where I hit four second-half threes to lead my team back from a double-digit deficit to win the game. (Mo would like to add here that her favorite moment of Justin playing hoops was his sophomore year when he was playing on JV vs. Collegiate. Justin was by far the most skilled player on the floor. He was shooting, taking threes, owning the game. He took a charge and ran someone over, which made me so proud. And yes, the kid he ran over was okay.)
If you were to describe Mo to someone, what would you say? (Don’t worry, she can take it!) In general it is very hard to describe someone in a couple lines of text, but if I were to describe Mo I would say she is passionate, driven, intense and competitive. From what I have heard Mo was like this as a player, and she is like this a coach and boss.
If you were to describe Mo’ Motion to someone, what would you say the program did for you? Mo’ Motion changed basketball for me. It was the only youth program that focused on developing skills from such a young age. Mo’ Motion makes you work on your weakness, which ultimately makes you the best player possible.
What are your short-and long-term goals as an athlete in another sport (assuming you played one?) My competitive athletic career is over now that I am done with high school, however, I would love to become a better golfer and maybe play club lacrosse in college. I also recently joined my dad’s softball team and hopefully I can hit some home runs this season. Ultimately, I would love to be playing semi-physical sports at 40-50 and sports like tennis and golf well after.
What are you short- and long-term goals as a student? I hope to continue my studies in college and hopefully find a major that I am interested in and that will challenge me. I also hope to take some new courses in areas I do not no so much about. I am unsure if I want to get a master’s degree or go to professional school, but it may be an option. Long term the goal would be to graduate college, and find a career that I can enjoy for the rest of my life.
What do you think is the most important skill an athlete can have? You always need a little talent, but the most important skill an athlete can have is drive. If you have the drive and will to succeed you can get there. When you stop at nothing to get your achieve your goals you will be a successful athlete and person.
What you want to be when you grow up? I am not really sure what I want to be when I am older, however, I have always dreamed of being a president, general manager, or owner of a sports team.
What is your favorite quote about sports and/or life?
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” -Eric Thomas