There’s plenty of people talking the talk, but not many are walking the walk. Co-founders Dr. Shira Ackerman and Mathis Crowder are definitely walking , talking and changing lives of young men along the way.
Founded by Dr. Shira Ackerman, Mathis Crowder & Charley Brown in 2011, Creating Young Minds is a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit organization located in Lewisville, Texas. CYM was created to help young men achieve success in life that otherwise would be unavailable to them.
Dr. Ackerman has a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University, 10 years’ experience in the field of Behavior Analysis and 20+ years’ experience as an educator. She uses her expertise to help the young men in the program, as well as their families. Mathis Crowder specializes in maximizing players potential physically, and mentally on the court. Crowder also spent 11 years as a Physical Therapy Assistant and has 20+ years’ experience as a basketball coach for young men and women between the ages of 11 and 25. Charley Brown helps coach and provides valuable experience to the CYM team.
The organization focuses on teaching, grooming, and developing young men into responsible humans. The primary objective is to teach young men how to have a purpose in life, how to humble themselves, work hard, and have good character.
“When I win, it’s because a young man was successful in what he wants to do in life.”– Mathis Crowder
“I ask them, ‘What do you want to do?’ What are you passionate about outside of basketball,” said Crowder. “And then they tell us, and we go ‘ok, how can we navigate that? How can we do that? Are you going to work 120%? If you work 120%, we’ll work 120%.”
A few years back, the Creating Young Minds (CYM) Academy was introduced to a tall and lanky teenager from Serbia. He was originally involved in a similar program as CYM, but he wasn’t getting many opportunities and the program itself wasn’t ran well. So, he decided to take his talents to CYM.
“He was such a hard worker, great leader, great young man,” said Crowder. “Most Europeans have skill, more skill than American players. But they don’t have the athleticism and the strength. So, we got him stronger, quicker, faster, more athletic. “
“Our goal is different, it’s organic. It’s not about money.”– Mathis Crowder
He came into the program at six feet, nine inches, but only weighed 210 pounds. He put on roughly 20-25 pounds of muscle, which aided him greatly. He already possessed the skill, he just needed to learn the speed of the American game. He also took English language classes to get his TOEFL and SAT score.
“He was able to get a really good TOEFL and SAT score so he could get admitted to college,” said Dr. Ackerman. “Even if we got him basketball ready, the scouts wouldn’t be able to do anything if he couldn’t get into the school because he’s a international student.”
By the end of his time with CYM, he accumulated 9-10 Division I offers and eventually signed with Delaware State. He graduated and is now back in Serbia, working as an investment banker for a company in the United States (he can’t return right now because of COVID-19).
“He did a great job at Delaware State,” said Dr. Ackerman. “After his first year, the president of the university offered to switch his basketball scholarship with an academic scholarship because he proved his academic value to the university. As an athlete, that gives you more control so he did it. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and also was named International Student of the Year for the university.”
“Just because you’re here now, doesn’t mean you have to get it now. One day it’ll click.”– Dr. Shira Ackerman
There’s plenty of CYM success stories and just like any other community based program, there’s sad ones. CYM understands that not everybody can and will be saved along the journey. But it doesn’t hurt to try.
“We tell the boys all the time that we’re not going to be able to save all of you,” said Dr. Ackerman. “Not all of you are going to understand what we’re trying to teach you now. And that’s okay. You’ll get it when you’re supposed to.”
“We just want to help as many young men as we can.”