By: Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
Beyond The Rim founder makes the most out of his second chance as a 20-year-old in 2000, walking into Centennial College, Kareem Rodney had one goal in mind. It was to be a star player for the men’s varsity basketball team. “I came and all I cared about was basketball” Rodney reminisced. “Athletically, I was one of the superstars. I could jump really high and play really well.”
Fast forward nine years later, and Rodney came back to Centennial, but this time, with a second chance. Beyond The Rim is a basketball program that started in 2009 that has youth between the ages of seven and 13 from three different communities in Scarborough attend the program, which is located at the Athletic and Wellness Centre at Progress Campus. Rodney, now 36, is the founder of the basketball program and says he was inspired by one of his marketing professors when he went back to Centennial in 2009, at the age of 29. My professor, Vern Kennedy, was like, “I have a program called Play It Smart and it’s a community program for kids and I think you’d be great to help out with” Rodney recalled.
“I actually came out and loved everything that was happening with the program; I’ve done it ever since.” Rodney once again made the men’s varsity basketball team after coming back to Centennial in 2009. But by then, he realized that his athletic gifts weren’t the same as they were in 2000 and decided to contribute to the team in other ways. “I realized that as a mature student, it was a little hard for me to keep up with the younger players,” Rodney said.
“I decided that I was going to take on more of a mentoring role with the team and was really helping with coaching, mentoring, tutoring and everything outside of basketball. That’s how I translated into the Beyond The Rim role also.” Rodney also came to Centennial in 2009, determined not to make the same mistakes that led to him not doing well in school and eventually leaving after his first year. “It’s not easy to just get a job when you don’t have any sort of education or any credentials” Rodney recalled.
“I didn’t care for a high GPA back in 2000; I came back in 2009 and I knew what I wanted. It was all about academics and my goal was to graduate with Honours.” His hard work behind the Beyond The Rim program, originated from the Malvern and Galloway communities, earning him recognition from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) as its Citizen MVP for October 2015. He was presented with the award during halftime of a Raptors game on November 4, 2015. Rodney says he was surprised and humbled by the recognition. “I felt amazing. Back when I started the program, it was on a voluntary basis and still is to this day” Rodney said.
“I loved the game of basketball and I wanted to make a difference in our communities. I didn’t expect this at all.” Rodney earned himself this recognition, because he took advantage of his second chance.
To find out more about Beyond the Rim visit http://www.centennialcollege.ca/about-centennial/community/beyond-the-rim/