NJ basketball league offers opportunities for athletes with autism

Posted: Updated:
SCOTCH PLAINS -

A Scotch Plains basketball program offers opportunities for young athletes with special needs.

The Wolves Basketball Academy “provides a friendly and fun environment for children with special needs to learn the fundamentals of basketball as well as play on a team.”

Christine Lowrey says that she has noticed a change in personality in her 14-year-old son Declan when he plays.

“What’s great about this league is the fact that it allows him to come out of his shell,” she says. “He has to develop social skills and this is the perfect opportunity.

The league was created by Jeff Mayerson who says that the emphasis is on teaching the players about the game, the rules and the skills – and not stress on winning. He has been coaching basketball for 15 years and started offering clinics for kids with special needs in 2014. He says that it even got the attention of the NBA.

“They said, ‘Would you run a clinic at the NBA All-Star Weekend in New York City?’ I said I absolutely would,” Mayerson says.

The team places athletes with autism on teams with children without special needs so that they can play together. He say that any concerns he had were erased early on in the process.

“One of the really good players threw a no-look pass and it was going right into the face of a special-needs player, and he lifted up his hands, caught the ball, shot it and made it. That’s when I knew this was going to work,” he says.

The players without special needs say that they are also learning more and finding out the kids with autism aren’t so different than they are.

“Whenever I get into a game, I get more focused and it brings more emotions out of me,” says player Brogan Quigley. “It’s the same for them.”

Christine Lowrey says that the Wolves Basketball Academy has given her a look at a promising future for Declan.

"It's an opportunity for me to see him reaching his potential. And for me to realize that he has even more than that to offer,” she says.

A portion of the money made from the league and clinics goes to charities involving autism.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Your Oct. 16 storm photos

    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Storm photos Oct. 17Storm photos Oct. 17
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
    Heavy right and high winds swept through the tri-state area due to a large coast storm on the night of Oct. 16. Here are your photos from the storm.
  • Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    Yankees in the 2019 Playoffs

    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia throws against the Houston Astros during the 10th inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Houston.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
    Photos on the field of the New York Yankees in the 2019 American League Division Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.
  • Guide: New Jersey Breweries

    Guide: New Jersey Breweries

    Looking to check out brewery this summer? There are many breweries across the state for beer-lovers to visit. Check out our list for breweries in your area. 

    Looking to check out brewery this summer? There are many breweries across the state for beer-lovers to visit. Check out our list for breweries in your area. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."