We got to catch up with Jim Fox Program director of Lightning Basketball. We asked him a few questions below!
When Did Each Program start?
Lightning Basketball was founded in 1992 with one team
How big was it when it was first established? What’s the biggest difference from your program now, to 5 years ago?
The biggest difference between now and five years ago is that we are substantially larger and that we are more focused on mid-level talent that wants to play principally a local schedule.
Where is the program based out of?
Lightning Basketball is based out of the Island Garden in West Hempstead, NY but we also have teams in Westchester, Albany, Connecticut and New Jersey
What is your favorite memory with your program?
I have tons of memories and it would not be fair to select one. My memories span from our team defeating a team from Michigan that had two future NBA stars on it all the way to a 9U player hitting the winning foul shot. There are also memories of a plane trip home from an AAU Championship in New Orleans when a flight attendant was disrespectful to our Team Mom and “Vinny” from the Bronx was going to deal with him in the way he knew best. Luckily, the Team mom convinced Vinny not to take matters into his own hands (literally). We all remember Vinny saying “No one talks like that to our Miss Rosemary”. It was a close one and it all revolved around the flight attendant wanting to get rid of the team trophy and being disrespectful to a woman for whom the players held the highest respect.
What is the hardest part about having your own program?
The hardest part of having our own program is to never compromise quality. We have significant competition from cheap and fake programs that try to undersell or undermine us. We keep our eyes and efforts on doing the right thing to provide the best for our players
What do you think your program excels in?
Our program excels in providing a safe, fun and healthy environment for our players. We have a tremendous full time administrative staff who are outstanding workers that share the same values of providing the best for our players. Our coaches are excellent and also love dealing with their players
How can you elevate your program to the next level?
Our next goal is to grow considerably while also “taking care of the little things”(quote taken from the founder of Shake Shack) which means that as big as we get, we can never lose sight of caring for each and every player to the best of our ability.
What separates you from other programs?
I believe we are different from other programs because of our experience, professionalism and complete dedication. We also have full time sports professionals operating our organization.
Where do you see your program in 2 years?
In 2 years, we will be 50% larger than we are now and will continue to be the best quality program in the industry. This is our vision and we will work toward it every day. This is probably somewhat unrealistic but we are going for it. We will never limit ourselves. Look at where we are today. We would have never imagined! We can never hesitate to take reasonable ( and sometimes unreasonable) chances to get better.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest factor to your program’s growth/success?
We have great coaches and most important, I am blessed to have a great team of leaders in Karen, Tom and Jon. I thank God for them every day. They are always correcting my mistakes and making my crazy ideas become a reality. I also steal their ideas and they do not complain.
What is your favorite ZG tournament?
We in Lightning love all the ZG tournaments.
What are you looking forward to most about the Spring 2020 ZG season?
2020 will be a year of significant change and dramatic improvement. The 3 Step business relationship will change the daily operations of Lightning and more importantly, will lead to more growth and higher quality business operations. We also will be establishing the position of a full time technical director, Jim Fox Jr., who will bring his 18 years experience at the highest level of college basketball to all of our players and coaches.
What’s been your proudest moment as Director?
I am blessed each day when I walk into Island Garden and look at the Lightning Alumni Board. Also, at our 25th Anniversary Dinner, leaders in youth sports traveled long distances to show their respect for Lightning. Those leaders included Greg Kristof, Roger Goudy and Jo Mirza among others.
What impact has your program had in your local community?
My favorite aspect of being a program director is seeing hundreds of children proudly wearing Lightning gear. It is not about the clothing but what is important that the athletes are proud to be part of something that I had a part in building for those young athletes. Also, I really enjoy when I run into someone in the community who may see me wearing Lightning gear and they say with enthusiasm that they once played for Lightning. It is a bond that goes beyond time.
What is your favorite aspect of being a program director?
I believe that we have had a tremendous impact on athletes for 28 years and we are no way near ending. We recently did a study that concluded that our alumni earned over $75,000,000 in scholarships and grants during our existence. It is not about the money but the idea that we assisted so many athletes get a start toward a successful life. Many philanthropists donate large sums of money toward charities but I like to think that Lightning has done a tremendous amount in a very meaningful way to help so many. We may not have big bank accounts but those of us who have administrated and coached with Lightning have given back in a very substantial way to our athletes and community. This is also the favorite part of being the Director of Lightning.
Another thought about what is most satisfying about being the leader of Lightning is that I truly believe we have built our program with a true sense of integrity and honesty. We have only tried to do what is ethical and moral. Equally as important is the goal that we have always tried to live up to is to serve as a role model for the young people entrusted to us.
What made you start the program?
A few of us started Lightning simply to give our sons an opportunity to play more competitive basketball. We still look back on those early days and have many funny stories. We do not remember our won/lost records but we certainly enjoy the life long friendships that resulted from those early days.
What role model do you have your players look up to?
We do not look up to any one specific role model. We try to emphasize certain values such as hard work, dedication to academics and teamwork over individual accomplishments.
MISSION STATEMENT AND STANDARDS
Lightning Basketball is an independent non-profit corporation that is dedicated to providing athletes with an opportunity to significantly improve their skills by receiving excellent coaching and competing in tournaments. It is the goal of Lightning to help players improve their skills so that they can be successful in playing in both high school and college.