Someone You Should Know: Keeping them playing during the pandemic

Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 9:31 AM CDT
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Allan Bertram grew up in the small town of Colome, South Dakota. And he usually had a basketball in his hands.

"Well for me growing up it was just an opportunity to get away, to get away from things. I spent hours and hours in the gym, to the point where you try to find ways to break in when you couldn't get in," Bertram said.

He went to play at hoops in college at Huron, then spent 17-years as a high school coach. And he noticed the kids who grew up in the Sioux Falls area, had a real advantage.

"When I moved from Chamberlain, I didn't realize all the unbelievable opportunities the kids had in this metro area to become a better athlete whether it was basketball or strength training or whatever. They had every accessible tool at their finger tips. And coming from where I come from, the kids had literally maybe their high school gym and maybe a weight room they could get in. There just was nothing," Bertram said.

So two-and-a half years ago, Bertram played a big role in forming Sacred Hoops with facilities in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Rapid City.

"Just trying to provide opportunities for everybody regardless of where their from or who they are or where they live. We've got over 60 summer teams we've got 600 and some kids playing for us in our program. We work out about 4-thousand kids every single year," Allan said.

Then the pandemic hit and things shutdown. Bertram and his Sacred Hoops team started sending out weekly video workouts, but then had an idea.

"All of us got together and thought we could do more, we're sitting on these zoom meetings every single day with all these people and we're talking so we thought there's a way we could do this live where not only do you have live instruction, but we also can put our coaches in on the call so they can be teaching and coaching while the drills are happening. So if a kid is doing it improperly we can correct right there," said Bertram.

And what started as 85 kids taking part, signing up through the Sacred Hoops website. Grew big time.

"We'll be pushing 75-hundred participants from ten states. And even we've got kids from Brazil now jumping on that just happened to be googling United States basketball workouts and come on Sacred Hoops and saw our zoom workouts and then signed up," said Bertram.

And the kids like Kelby VanDerWeff from Platte-Geddes High School, .have appreciated it.

"Obviously we didn't have much going on. So he had a couple of sessions a day where we could hop on and just help with our footwork and ball handling all that kind of stuff. It was nice to get a little bit of normalcy back at home," Kelby said.

"Our kids even mentally were struggling tremendously. More than I think us as adults even understand. They get for an hour, we've got kids doing 16 workouts a week. For that 45 minutes or and hour, it's normal, they're with 100 other kids," Bertram said.

And Bertram says there's no charge for the workouts.

"We just said it's going to be free for everybody, and it's going to be free the entire time. The beautiful thing is we're not having to drive somewhere. We're able to do it from our garages, we're doing it from our driveways, we're doing it sometimes in here. This pandemic has forced us all to think outside the box. And it's going to change how we do things. It's going to change how we deliver and again it reaches our mission and vision of reaching more and more kids who need it," said Allan.