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Ericka Brown, longtime MMSD worker and East Side community leader, kicks off new Higher Dimensions Youth Basketball program

Ericka Brown (Photo supplied.)

It is basketball season, and with the season, there are plenty of ways to get involved in basketball programs, especially for kids. Higher Dimensions Youth Basketball is a new program that was started by Ericka Brown to bring an opportunity for practicing basketball for 4th to 8th graders, but particularly focusing on the personal and character development aspect of basketball, as well.

Brown is no stranger to getting involved and creating what needs to be created for her community, and this basketball program is no different after realizing her son did not have a program for the season. Brown’s own mother, Doris Brown, was heavily involved in the development of Madison’s Allied Drive Neighborhood community helping push for and found a community center for the area.

Brown recalled the impact her mother had as a role model and how it came out through her work.   

“I use basketball and the court as a vehicle to life lessons and situations,” Brown told Madison365. “I’m a restorative justice coach and have my own LLC, so those philosophies, principles, and back-to-humanity characteristics are more important to me than if you can dribble a ball. Don’t get me wrong, I got some top-notch former program coaches, and they’re also MMSD employees. Again, [I’m] very strategic on who’s around our kids that we’re serving.”

Brown’s focus on restorative justice came through training she was offered as a worker in MMSD, and truly landed when she was able to utilize the training in her own life within personal relationships. Such connections are invaluable to Brown who has three children with her wife, Samantha Brown. 

Coming from a history of overcoming obstacles, Brown knows the support her athletes need is often similar to the support her own children need in overcoming their personal obstacles, and that is where the focus on support and growth comes in.  

“Our kids need to hear this, constantly, that you are somebody,” assured Brown. “You missed the shot, it’s alright. Go ahead and take 20 more, and if you make 19, keep trying. The same principles in life … we’ve tried to keep it simple and move it to basketball. We have practices, along with the off-the-court lesson planning with circles of not only our kids but their parents, team building, and we do some volunteer work. Getting them in different spaces and being exposed to let them know that there are young men out here that have goals who dream, and need to dream.”

Building a support system for the kids in the basketball program is the main focus for Brown and those helping her in this venture. Coaches Chariss Dupaty, Mike Williams, Arthur Johnson, and Chris Taylor are all putting in valuable time and effort alongside other mentors and those lending a land such as Will Glenn Jr., Jerome Flowers, Jamaal Eubanks, Donta Brown, Reggie Gaddis, Jeremiah Covington, and Antonio Cruz Rodriguez.

With a team of dedicated and passionate community members, Brown is diligent in making sure the program remains beneficial for each child involved.  

“Make sure there’s a balance there,” Brown explained. “If you’re getting on them about missing a shot, get on them along with ‘I’m still here, I’m supporting you, and I got your back.’ Make sure there’s a balance on the court, and they know that. The parents see that … because I’m one of the parents that I watch your actions more than your words. I question my kids to make sure they’re in the right space. ‘He’s the right coach, how’s he feeling? Did you appreciate how he told you this and that?’ It’s all about developing on both ends, I keep my eyes on both ends.”

As a personal journey for the future, Brown is also looking to work on advancing her own Listening Hearts Restorative Justice Coaching as well as developing a childcare business as an extension along with the Higher Dimensions Basketball program. Along with sitting on boards for community organizations such as the East Madison Community Center and Christ The Solid Rock Baptist Church, Brown hopes to continue her community work as she remarked how precious time is in the bigger picture of leaving an impact and legacy in your community.     

“I would like just to say ‘thank you’ for the support of my community and my family,” said Brown in closing. “This has been beyond a dream on paper. It’s been a two-year process, I’m still grinding, and we’re not there yet. At the same time, I’m teaching my sons, it’s a process. My 12-year-old is like, ‘We only got four kids,’ and then yesterday, ‘We got seven kids,’ so it’s a process … trust the process. While I’m talking to him, I’m talking to myself, so sometimes I gotta encourage myself. I really want to thank the community, my supporters, and my coaches who have been there.”

For more information and to get involved, email Higher Dimensions Basketball at [email protected]. To support Higher Dimensions Youth Basketball, feel free to visit this website and donate