From professional basketball player to life coach, Kyle Coston hopes to transition his newly acquired business, HoopStar, from a collection of basketball teams into a county-wide training program for young athletes.
“We take basketball as a character-building sport and we try to create high-character people through basketball,” Coston said in a phone interview.
For the last eight years, HoopStar was a collection of teams for Whatcom County children to travel and gain experience competing and staying active playing basketball during the offseason. With Coston’s new plan, athletes from kindergarten through 12th grade can come to play on traveling teams but also attend small clinics that will focus on fundamental skills and character development.
Starting Wednesday, Oct. 7, a YoungStar development league, of kindergarten through fourth grade students, will put emphasis on providing a varied basketball skill-set to these younger athletes, Coston said.
The middle school and high school programs will have a more set curriculum, working on the three areas of core habits — training, attacking and shooting.
Coston officially took over HoopStar on August 1, and immediately began forming relationships with local coaches to expand the ways his training program can benefit athletes already playing for their schools. For the past five years, he has traveled internationally as a full-time professional athlete and it is that experience he wants to bring to Whatcom County youth.
“The ultimate goal would be to get all the varsity coaches involved and work with all the Whatcom County teams during the summers to improve skill sets,” Coston said. “I’m all about training. Training is my passion.”
Jason Owens is Ferndale High School’s first-year basketball coach and Coston’s first supporter of the training program. As a coach, he is not affiliated, but he appreciated the work being done for the athletes, Owens said.
“Kyle has transformed HoopStar from a bunch of basketball teams to individual training, which is beneficial to coaches who are looking to build the skills of their players in the offseason,” Owens said in a phone interview. “It also gives them a different voice, a different perspective. Sometimes as coaches, they have heard our voice enough and somebody else saying it seems to resonate.”
For people who want to play basketball during the offseason, one of the hardest things in Whatcom County is to find a gym to play in, he said.
The reason is that all gyms are either connected to a school or a private space. Through HoopStar and the connections being formed through Coston’s changes, Owens hopes to see a shift toward making offseason training a priority.
According to the Washington Intercollegiate Activities Association, which sets the rules for high school basketball programs, the coaches are not allowed to be involved at all with offseason training, Owens said.
As a trainer who is not a school coach, Coston is now working with Owens’ team, even though Owens can know nothing about the training being done, he said. Other competitive regions have been transitioning into a similar focus on personal trainers, but Coston is the only one he knows of doing this program in Bellingham.
“I have entrusted Kyle to do what he does,” Owens said. “I am not allowed to go hang out or see what they are doing, it’s interesting WIAA rules.”
The most import thing to both Coston and Owens is to not just build the sporting skills of these athletes, but to also build their character. The two of them are undercover life-skills coaches using basketball as their platform, Owens said.
“It’s more than training, it’s teaching kids life skills,” he said. “Giving them energy and passion that really makes a difference in some kids’ lives.”
Three sessions: Fall, Winter, Spring
Fall start: Wednesday, Oct. 7
Session length: Two months