Heading into his final year with the South Windsor Girls Travel Basketball Program, Ulysses Garcia decided to raise the bar through implementation of the Read & React Offense. The program dramatically evolved under his leadership; migrating from non-competitive teams at every grade level to teams that were consistently competing for league championships. Yet it was his final year that Garcia saw the greatest growth. Through implementing the Read & React Offense, his athletes began to really understand the game and develop a true ‘Basketball IQ’. They moved well without the ball, and made smart decisions with it. Instead of running plays, they were reading defenders as well as ball movement. That year all of the athletes became different players, raising their game as well as their confidence, with some of the most dramatic improvements in those with the least skill. The Read & React empowered all the girls and gave them the tools to actively engage in the game and make real-time decisions they were equipped to handle.
The entire South Windsor Girls Travel Basketball Program competed at a high level again that year, with the 6th grade team finishing 3rd in the regular season standings, the 7th grade team winning the regular season as well as the league championship, and the 8th grade team that Garcia led, also winning the regular season and league championship. That year marked the end of a four year journey for Ulysses that started with a nucleus of girls including his daughter playing as 5th graders on the 6th grade team, and culminated with back-to-back league championships and an overall record of 126-6. Although winning was never the focus, it became the product of unity, discipline, structure, focus, commitment and other critical intangibles.
Garcia took a core of athletes from his travel team and combined them with a talented group of girls from the greater Hartford area to comprise his Connecticut Spirit AAU Team. Beginning at the U11 age group, his teams consistently won and drew accolades, however it was this past U13 season that Garcia saw the same spike and pattern of growth and success after introducing the Read & React System to his talented team.
He and four Spirit colleagues dove into transforming their teams ranging in age from U10 – U15 through implementation of the Read & React, and the results were exciting. Coaches collaborated and worked together more. Athletes strengthened fundamental skills, improved communication and movement, and grew confident in decision-making with and without the ball. Cohesiveness and chemistry flourished as teams became dependent on working together, and all the athletes at their respective levels became more complete and confident players. These various aspects of improvement also translated to success on the court, with three of those five teams winning Division 1 State Championships. Additionally, Garcia’s team garnered special attention competing with and upsetting several nationally ranked teams.
The five Spirit coaches that committed to the Read & React were significantly impacted by the success of the season in terms of player development, player satisfaction, team camaraderie, team growth, and game outcomes. Each coach not only enthusiastically committed to continuing with the Read & React the following season, but also ramping up their teams and supporting others implementation.
In 2012, all five teams will debut under a new AAU organization, the Connecticut ATTACK. Spearheaded by Garcia and former South Windsor Girls Travel Basketball and Connecticut Spirit colleague Heather Glezen, the ATTACK has embraced the Read & React from an organizational level. Convinced the unique layered teaching progression is the best way to mentally and physically prepare athletes for each next level, the ATTACK will immerse all of their teams in the Read & React.
Garcia and Glezen also used the Read & React and some of its foundational drills during their 2011 Connecticut ATTACK Summer Clinics, which served over 120 athletes representing 27 towns and two states. In addition to supporting athletes’ growth and development, the Clinics also brought together multiple AAU, Travel and high school coaches. This forum provided a fun opportunity for coaches to observe and discuss the Read & React, various aspects of skill development as well as the importance of cultivating a championship culture.
With a strong commitment to the Read & React and player development, the ATTACK stands out as an organization dedicated to serving today’s youth. Additionally, they have embraced community service and leadership development, cultivating character, integrity, sportsmanship and teamwork in their athletes.
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