OUR MISSION



Give N’ Grow Sports, Inc. DBA Give N' Grow Basketball (GNG) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that elevates the mental, emotional and physical health of K-5th graders by combining the fundamentals of mental health with the fundamentals of basketball.

OUR WHY



GNG recognizes that depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and teen suicide are increasing worldwide, which is why elevating the mental health of K-5th graders in a productive, uplifting way is GNG’s utmost priority.

GNG has consulted with a bevy of experts in the fields of sports psychology, developmental psychology, childhood education, and therapy and life coaching to ensure that its curriculum integrates the most essential and effective mental health skills for K-5th graders to develop during adolescence: mindfulness and social and emotional learning (SEL).

GNG has combined these key mental health skills with the most popular youth sport in the United States, basketball, to ensure that students are engaged in its programming.

OUR HISTORY



GNG was established in 2017 after Founder, Ben Cecchini, having just returned from volunteering in Ghana as a basketball trainer, decided to combine his passions for personal development and mental health with his love of basketball. Ben believed that meeting kids where they are already inspired to learn and participate, on a basketball court with the music they love, was the best way to engage students and deliver these essential life skills.

For the next year, Ben and current Executive Director, Ryan McFarland, began creating and testing GNG's FUNdaMENTALs curriculum in collaboration with a bevy of experts in the fields of sports psychology, developmental psychology, childhood education, therapy and life coaching. This research ensured that its curriculum integrates the most essential and effective mental health skills for K-5th graders to develop during adolescence: mindfulness and social and emotional learning (SEL).

Ben and Ryan took these mental health fundamentals and infused them into fundamental basketball drills so that students are simultaneously practicing skills like positive self talk, being present and managing emotions while they dribble, pass, and shoot.

In 2018, GNG began to implement programs and clinics for K-8th graders in Baltimore City and neighboring Baltimore and Howard Counties where their innovative drills proved effective at boosting student self-esteem as well as mental, emotional, and physical health while engaging students with basketball, high energy music, and dance celebrations.

With the support of many friends, families, volunteers, partners, and sponsors, GNG has continued to evolve its startup, which obtained nonprofit status in 2019, into a proactive organization that gives thousands of adolescents across the country access to engaging virtual programs that cultivate crucial mental health skills through basketball, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between 2020-2022, we've delivered empowering programming to thousands of youth across the country in partnerships with organizations like Under Armour, Dick's Sporting Goods, Jr. NBA, Cleveland Cavs Youth Org, Jr. 76ers, and elementary schools in 10+ states (and counting!).


THE SCIENCE & STATISTICS



OUR TEAM



 RYAN MCFARLAND

Executive Director, Head Basketball Skills Trainer


In 2011, Coach Ryan held his first individual training session and hasn’t looked back! Since then, he has been training individual players, groups, and basketball teams in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. Additionally, he enjoys coaching at professional camps including the Michael Carter-Williams Pro Camp in Philadelphia!

After graduating college, he served as an Assistant Basketball Coach for his alma mater, Holy Name HS in Reading, PA. Coach Ryan is always mastering his craft and sharing his passion for basketball with everyone he encounters.

As Head Basketball Trainer Coach Ryan goes above and beyond to ensure skill and character growth. He breaks skills down with a positive, engaging energy that allows players of all skill levels to thrive. In each session, you can count on Coach Ryan to educate and inspire!

Education:

B.S. Leisure and Sports Studies, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, 2015

2 Year Starter, Reading Area Community College Basketball

Ben Cecchini

Founder, Head Mental Skills Trainer


 

Coach Ben is a basketball player, motivational speaker, rapper, and mental skills trainer who has travelled the world inspiring people to be the best they can be. 

Ben worked for the NBA team the Atlanta Hawks, and was a  footwear developer for Under Armour where he helped to create all of the custom Under Armour shoes worn by NBA players, including Steph Curry.

He has lived in Ghana in Western Africa where he served as a mental skills trainer for basketball players, and he is the founder, chairman, and head mental skills trainer for Give N’ Grow Basketball.

Education:

B.A. Mathematics, Washington & Jefferson College, 2013

Captain, W&J College Men’s Basketball 2010-2013

Certifications:

Certified Professional Life Coach, iPEC, 2017

Eric Rubin

Board Member


 

After a 30+ year career in financial services, Eric is using his skills learned as a financial services executive in the nonprofit world. At Give N Grow, Eric focuses on the financial, board, and administrative needs of the organization and supporting the outstanding coaching staff however possible.

Eric was able to combine his investment background with basketball when he was selected by the NBPA and NBA to provide the 401(k) enrollment meetings for the teams as well as conducting the league’s financial literacy program for several years.

Eric is passionate about issues related to children, Judaism, and a strong U.S. – Israel relationship. In his spare time, Eric serves as a Senior Adviser to Uncommon Giving - a new generosity platform, Safe Lane – a Jerusalem based technology nonprofit trying to reduce traffic fatalities, is a mentor to Our Generation Speaks – an organization that brings the younger generation of Israelis and Palestinians together, and volunteers at the MirYam Institute.