Alex Bernhard: Creating opportunities for young athletes

March 17, 2023 - Mackenzie Coombs

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, enjoyed by millions of people of all ages. For many young people, basketball is more than just a sport–it’s an opportunity to learn valuable life skills, build confidence, and develop lifelong friendships. Youth basketball programs provide a structured and supportive environment for young athletes to hone their skills, build their athleticism, and foster a passion for the game.

Alex Bernhard is a Berks County native and is a former D3 athlete at Centenary University. Bernhard’s dream growing up was to become a professional basketball player in the NBA. As he got closer to college graduation, he realized that he wanted to follow a new path; coaching the next generation. After working with different trainers due to injuries, he fell in love with that aspect of the game.

”When I was younger, I wanted to be a professional basketball player. As I got closer to college and realized how far away I was from that, I started working with trainers and started to fall in love with that process”, Bernhard explains.

As graduation approached, he realized he didn’t want just another job. He wanted to follow his passion and love for the sport through the lives of his players. From there, he created New Age Hoops.

”I wish I had someone tell me what I needed to do to reach my goal. Now that I know what I know, I can utilize those lessons by teaching the kids what I wish I knew back then,” Bernhard elaborates.

New Age Hoops is a place where basketball players can develop confidence, discipline, a good work ethic, and accountability. Additionally, basketball can provide a sense of belonging for children who may feel isolated or marginalized. Through participating in a team, they can develop a sense of community and build friendships with their teammates, coaches, and other participates in the program. They learn to set goals, work hard to achieve them, and push themselves beyond their limits. This can increase a sense of social support, improved mental health, and a greater sense of purpose.

“Being able to not only teach them how to play the game, but to also teach them manners, respect, these are beneficial skills on and off the court. I think sports are an important factor to growing as an individual.”

Basketball is more than just a game. It has the power to bring communities together and inspire young minds. Many organizations pertaining to basketball provide opportunities for kids to play, learn, and grow through the game of basketball. Through this program, kids are not only taught the fundamentals but also important life lessons such as teamwork, leadership, and perseverance.

”I give out merch to my kids, and they always wear it when they come. I want them to wear it with pride, but most importantly, represent this organization through their actions. Like being polite, being respectful, and working hard on their own.”

Bernhard understands that the sport is constantly evolving, so he makes it a point to evolve with it. If coaches continue to do the same things, the results will be the same. That isn’t always a good thing because it’s important to adjust and conform to the needs of the athlete. He wants to help these young athletes become the best versions of themselves. In the process of this, he’s continuously improving himself and his own basketball skills.

The sport is about creating a supportive and competitive atmosphere to help kids grow as individuals and as athletes. Bernhard is empowering them to reach their full potential on and off the court!