When a group of boys asked Maureen “Mo” Holohan to coach their seventh-grade team in 2009, she said yes on one condition: No need for road trips to Long Island or New Jersey.
Mo knew that the toughest competition was only blocks away in every direction in Manhattan. Mo said she would find a local network of teams and play on the upper east side, upper west side, and in Harlem. “We are probably going lose more than we win, and we may get crushed at times,” she said. “But this is the only way I know how to play.”
The boys and their parents said they were IN.
Mo’ Motion’s first boys’ team faced stiff competition that first year, and the boys loved it. Mo, a former high school All-American and three-time All-Big Ten player, taught them to understand that the players on the opposing teams they were battling put as much time into hoops as her players put into academics. By the time Mo’s team made it to overtime in the semi-final game against the mighty Milbank Flyers of Harlem, her players understood what it means to work hard, hang tough and EARN IT.
That’s how Mo’ Motion Youth Basketball & Fitness NYC was born. Today its purpose remains the same: educating children about sports and fitness while promoting amateur sports in the New York City community. Mo’ Motion raises money from training events, workouts and camps, and with its excess funds and donations, the non-profit organization provides scholarships for individuals and sponsorships for teams in need of financial support.
Mo’ Motion has grown from one team of seventh-grade boys to serving more than 650 players each year. Collectively, more than 1,000 players are the driving force behind the formation of The Gotham Basketball Association. The GBA serves 80 teams annually with its inclusive-style league play. Mo’ Motion teaches players grades K-12, and provides equal opportunities for girls and boys on the court and in the program and league’s coaching ranks.
Word of Mo’s coaching, approach and culture spread. The family and friends of her players took note of her attention to detail and her commitment to putting team and player development above winning. Mo began to build her staff with exceptional young coaches who were highly accomplished former high school, college, and pro players. They were eager to learn her system and have a positive impact on good kids who were teachable and serious about academic achievement.
The first class of Mo’ Motion players includes high school varsity captains, a current basketball player at MIT and a few others who are being recruited to play college basketball. In addition, several players from other teams in the GBA are currently in pursuit of a college scholarship.
Mo’ Motion continues to promote an inclusive environment while raising money to keep the GBA local for parents, coaches, and players regardless of their level of talent. The GBA and Mo’ Motion also work together to renovate gyms, community centers, and parks as well as sponsor teams in need of financial and coaching support.