After realizing Tucson’s northwest side lacked a club basketball team, Josh Kollasch launched the Oro Valley Basketball Academy with the goal of matching the thriving scene in the Phoenix area.
A former Lewis & Clark College basketball player who grew up in Tucson, Kollasch began his journey by enlisting his friends and professional colleagues to get the fledgling institution off the ground.
A year’s worth of hard work came to fruition this March when the academy’s first six of teams took to the hardwood for the first time. Fast-forward seven months, and the group has grown to a 65-player collective of boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 16.
Kollasch said the growth of the club far exceeds expectations namely because parents are buying into his altruistic mission of providing a place for youth to learn the sport in a competitive, yet fun environment.
Kollasch’s vision was recently on full display across at Immaculate Heart School in Oro Valley, where two-dozen boys and girls raced across the black-and-blue framed courts.
These young players make up the backbone of Oro Valley Basketball Academy’s teams, which are led by a collective of experienced coaches hand-picked by Kollasch.
One of those players was 10-year-old Graham Summerfield, who’s played the game since he was 4.
Both Graham and his mother, Diana, spoke to the virtues that Kollasch has instilled since the club took to competition in March.
Diana said she initial enrolled her son in the program he could learn from the same coaches who work with the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy boys basketball program. She’s been thrilled with the growth that she’s seen in Graham’s basketball skills on the court, as well as his work ethic off of it.
Graham, who sees himself as a three-point specialist with defensive acumen, said playing for Kollasch’s club has been a great experience.
The 10-year-old, who idolizes Indiana Pacers forward Victor Oladipo said he’s made a lot of close friends through his time with the academy and called the twice-a-week practices are fun for all involved.
“The best part about being out here is spending time with my friends,” Graham said. “I get to play with them, and it’s just really fun practicing with the coaches, since they’re really fun to play with.”
Keeping the game of basketball entertaining and attainable is a key focus for Kollasch, who wants to keep kids involved in sports so they can live healthy, productive lives.
“We definitely want to be competitive, but we also want to be a place where families and kids can feel welcomed, regardless of their age group or skill level,” he said.
While athletes are learning on-the-court skills, it’s what they learn outside of the game that’s a big draw to parents like Diana, who loves seeing the development in her son’s social skills.
“He’s had some good standout moments, I think, where it’s built his confidence,” she said. “That was one of the other reasons why we wanted to join this club, was to get his confidence up.”
Though he’s interested in relaying his basketball skills to local athletes, Kollasch is keenly aware of how important sports can be as a building block in life. Kollasch used his experience and skills to play in college and professionally in Australia.
He believes that today’s youth are at risk of losing touch with the benefits of team sports, which could harm their chances of attaining success once they grow up.
“We feel like we really prioritize the kids, not only on the court,” he said. “We want to develop them off of it and get them to the next level and achieve whatever their dreams they might have.”
For more information, visit https://www.orovalleybasketballacademy.com/.