Elite Basketball Academy is more than just a school for basketball, it’s a learning center, a growing center, a place where boys and girls (8 – 16 years old) come not only to get better at basketball but to get better at life. It was founded in 2011 by Coach Andres Cardona, who at the time was simply a high school senior trying to figure out his path in life. He started off with individual training until he was able to acquire the funding to jumpstart the program that would one day be shaping the lives of countless youth in his hometown.
It started with a contest designed to help open doors for students of lower and middle income families. Coach Cardona was asked to develop a business plan for NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), and then compete against fellow classmates for a $500 grant. Without a dollar in his pocket, Coach Cardona worked hard to develop a presentation that would truly impress NFTE, and his hard work quickly paid off.
Upon receiving the grant, Coach Cardona invested in signs, basketballs, and flyers. Flyers he took from school to school, with no car, advertising Elite Basketball Academy. Coach Cardona had a vision and he was determined to make his dream come true. His goal was to give children from all walks of life the opportunity to play the game he loved. It didn’t matter who they were, what they had, or how well they could play. At Elite, the court was open to everyone.
Coach Cardona’s approach is to instill a solid foundation for the kids that would eventually translate into the betterment of life in all aspects. “It is not just about making better ballplayers, it’s about making better people” says Coach Cardona. To give his students the best possible start he invited actual basketball trainers to coach them. Having volunteer parents was important to him, but he wanted to ensure that the kids were receiving the highest level of education and training possible, so he recruited elite coaches to build their game.
Elite Basketball Academy doesn’t just build up their game, the grueling practices also build deep relationships between the coaches and their players. The athletes form an interesting dynamic, coming from a wide range of socio-economic classes. Some are private school students, some are from the inner city, some from public schools in the neighborhood. All play hard to be the best they can be.
The focus has always been beyond basketball. In the last seven years more than 2,000 boys and girls have gone through the program and Coach Cardona has helped more than 90 percent of them graduate high school and go to college.
It’s not always easy; many times his athletes are facing difficult challenges outside the basketball court and school. A 17-year-old student once found himself homeless for two weeks, with no one to turn to. His older brother was trying everything possible to help him out, but for a brief period of time, he was on his own. Coach Cardona opened his doors and put a roof over his head until he could figure it out.
With Elite Basketball Academy, the doors are always open. Students have approached Coach Cardona when they’ve found themselves unable to pay academy fees. Rather than turn them away, he offers them an opportunity to come in early and stay late, helping clean the park, the equipment, ref the games, and do anything available to earn their spot at the academy.
With no Coach figure in his early years, Coach Cardona had to teach himself the game of basketball. That is one of his biggest drivers today, providing the boys and girls with something he never had. Always looking for new opportunities to educate and inspire, Elite Basketball Academy will be offering their first summer camp in Pinecrest, to be held out of Killian High School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday – Friday.
Elite Basketball Academy is a place for aspiring athletes to attend and work hard, but it’s also a place where they can dream big. Coach Cardona wants all of his students to envision themselves making it in whatever field they choose. He knows not everyone can achieve their goals but firmly believes that life requires you to have big dreams and big visions if you aspire to accomplish big things.
Elite Basketball Academy is located at 7850 SW 142 Ave, Miami, FL 33183. Coach Cardona can be reached anytime at 305-803-6773. Their Instagram is @elitebasketballmiami and Facebook is @elitebasketballacademy. They can also be found on the web at: www.eliteballacademy.com.