In two years, Corey Edwards’ goal is to be coaching in the Division I ranks, the highest level of men’s college basketball. For a lot of basketball coaches, ascending to Division I is aspirational at best, but for Corey it feels more like an eventuality. This feeling is born from his lineage and experience in basketball and his dedication to the coaching craft.
Though Corey is only 25-years-old, his basketball credentials are impressive. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Corey began playing basketball when he was six-years-old. His career was guided from an early age by his family; namely his father, Dave Edwards, who played basketball in college, first at Georgetown University for legendary coach John Thompson and later at Texas A&M University where he set program records for career assists and steals. He grew up on the fabled concrete courts of New York City which led him to New Heights Youth - a youth basketball program in Harlem - before he attended basketball powerhouse, Christ the King High School.
While at Christ the King, Corey and his team experienced a lot of success. Their success, coupled with his undeniable talent, led to his recruitment and eventual commitment to play basketball at George Mason University. During his career at George Mason, Corey played point guard and was a solid performer running the offense for coach Paul Hewitt. As with any young player, Corey’s goals were to play basketball professionally. It was during his junior season when Corey’s mindset began to shift from his playing career to the potential of a coaching career. Now, just a couple years removed from his playing days, this has become a reality. Corey currently serves as an Up2Us Sports coach at the program he grew up in, New Heights Youth.
After graduating college in 2015, there was no doubt in Corey’s mind that he would begin his coaching career in the program that has meant so much to him. New Heights couples basketball instruction with academic and life skill development to help young people in the New York City community succeed in life. “It is a family atmosphere at New Heights and I don’t want to call them mentors because they are more than mentors at this point in my life,” he said.
The family atmosphere Corey described pulls at one of the most important threads of any Up2Us Sports training; the understanding that one positive adult relationship can be the difference in a young person’s life. Corey understands the importance of having these relationships as well. In addition to his family, he credits his former coach, Kimani Young - now an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota - for so much of his development. “He has helped me develop as a young man and a basketball player,” Corey said. “There is no telling where I would be today if it wasn’t for Kimani, and him being such an influential figure makes me want to be that for kids. If I can help at least one kid do what I did - go to high school for free, go to college for free, get my degree - I think I did my job.”
Corey’s focus on helping his players succeed in life is what drives his dedication to improve as both a coach and a mentor. He knows that on the court whether he is drawing up offensive plays or setting defensive rotations, his experience and knowledge help him to excel. However, Corey has embraced the greater challenge he faces as a sports-based youth development coach: how to develop the person along with the athlete for the kids on his team.
Since attending an Up2Us Sports National Coach Training Institute alongside nearly 100 coaches last August, Corey has intentionally changed the way he coaches to better reach all of his players. “You have to [adjust] your method with kids based on what is going on with them depending on their situation at home,” he said. “It has been hard, changing the way that you coach for a kid. It is a humbling experience, but you have to do it for the betterment of the kids.”
Corey’s growth as a coach is why his supervisor, Adam Berkowitz, approached him with the opportunity to be an Up2Us Sports coach. He knew that the training would provide Corey with additional tools to grow and become an even better coach. “It gave me a different standpoint on how to coach,” Corey said about the training. “Up2Us Sports is helping me become a better coach.”
Just as Corey’s old coach Kimani Young did with him when he was growing up, Corey has fully embraced the role he plays in the lives of the kids that he coaches. He makes sure to have conversations with parents and insures that he is informed as to how his kids are doing with both academics and their behavior in school. Regardless of his player’s lives outside of the New Heights program, Corey has created a space for his players to succeed on the court and is preparing them to thrive off of it.