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Who is Behind PPA Hoops?

In just a few short years PPA Hoops has grown tremendously and it is all thanks to our two PPA Hoops Directors. Coach Mike McClain started the PPA Hoops Program and now oversees the entire program, including all of Girls hoops, while coaching premier and development teams. Coach Eli Schwadron is the Director of Boys Hoops and coaches development and premier teams as well. I sat down with the two coaches to talk about their passion for basketball and PPA. We are very lucky to have these two leading our PPA Hoops Program.

Read the two interviews below!

Coach Mike McClain

1. What inspired you to start up the PPA Hoops program?

Launching PPA Hoops was my dream since I began coaching at PPA and there was only soccer. I grew up playing soccer and basketball competitively, and saw how playing multiple sports not only complimented, but elevated my level of play in each sport. Given the growing demand for high quality multi-sport leagues and academies, launching basketball only seemed like the next logical step for PPA.

2.What makes PPA Hoops unique in your opinion?

PPA Hoops provides year round basketball programs for every type of player, with arguably the best coaching staff in the area. Whether you are the best 5th grader in your school and you'd like to play travel and compete in AAU tournaments in a highly competitive environment, or you are a 1st grade girl looking to join an all-girls league with your friends, PPA Hoops can meet all of your basketball needs/goals.

3. What is your favorite memory of playing basketball from your youth?

My family had a cement court in our backyard with a hoop on each side, with lights looking over it. Every summer and early fall my older brother and I would play 1v1 every night under the lights. Playing against him is where I developed a true sense of competitiveness and toughness that I'm not sure I wouldn've gotten anywhere else. I'm truly thankful to my brother for all of those 1v1 games.

4. What is your biggest achievement in basketball?

My biggest achievement was finishing my high school sophomore season on the Varsity Basketball Team at Dematha Catholic High School. Playing under Mike Jones, in such a professional and competitive environment, is where I learned the most about the game of basketball. I went on to play basketball at McDaniel College and was the only freshman (one of nine recruits) to start my first year.

5. What is one thing you really try to implement with your kids when you are coaching?

In my last couple of seasons as a coach, at every level, I've been pushing my players more and more to be critical thinkers. I ask my players a lot of questions to help them figure out and understand the 'why' behind learning a move, or drill, or play. If our players can understand the purpose behind learning different skill sets, different defensive principles, different habits we try and build, and eventually become better critical thinkers both in practice and in games, then the better off they'll be in a game as unpredictable as the sport of basketball.

Coach Eli Schwadron

1. What inspired you to join the PPA Hoops program?

My love for basketball and my passion for working with kids initially led me to PPA.

2. What makes PPA Hoops unique in your opinion?

The PPA staff is what makes our club stand out. Just as we expect all of our players to improve, we also expect all of our coaches/directors to look in the mirror after each season and ask, "In what areas can I get better? How can I make the upcoming season the best experience ever for the players?"

3. What is your favorite memory of playing basketball from your youth?

Too many to name! The most fun I ever had on a basketball court has to be all the summers I spent at Takoma Park Basketball Camp. I also went to camp at St. John's, Sidwell, and a few others — but Takoma was the most fun because I was with all my best friends year after year. The camp director, Louie Hoelman, is still running the camp to this day. We've stayed in touch. I wish PPA had existed when I was growing up!

In terms of a specific memory, I remember playing an AAU game at the Langley Park Boys & Girls Club when I was in 4th or 5th grade. My team, the "District All-Stars," got completely blown out, and I was feeling pretty upset. As I was leaving the gym, Houston Rockets star Steve Francis came over to me and told me he liked my game. It meant a lot to hear that from him after a tough loss -- Francis was somebody who I had admired growing up, because we're from the same part of Maryland, and he had made it to the highest level of basketball.

4. What is your biggest achievement in basketball?

Until I started working for PPA, I had planned on pursuing a career in sports journalism. In high school, I had the opportunity to interview Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the school paper. While working for SLAM Magazine while I was in college, I got to interview Vince Carter about his legendary dunk contest performance. More recently, I was lucky enough to interview Shaquille O'Neal.

5. What is one thing you really try to implement with your kids when you are coaching?

I make it a point to implement the new-school into my practices. I want all my Premier players to know the Euro-Step, for example — a move that didn't even exist 10, 15 years ago. And if a group of 4th graders has range, and they are capable of shooting and making the 3-ball, then we're going to move some of our shooting drills out to the 3-point line. Because that's the way the game is trending.

Obviously we have a motion offense, sets, inbounds plays, press breaks, etc, but the last thing I want is for these kids to play like robots. I'm not one of these coaches who is going to yell at a kid for making a behind-the-back pass or what most would consider a "flashy play." Fundamentals come first, but my players know they have freedom to make their own decisions and have fun while they're out there as well.

It is a big weekend for PPA Hoops! We have our development leagues tournaments and our Premier teams are in the playoffs. Good luck to all PPA teams competing!

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