Basketball academy is a dream come true for couple
By Lila Baltman
When Mimi and Corey Sommers moved to Scottsdale from the Bay Area in 2016 with their tall, athletically gifted, 9-year-old son, EJ, they immediately looked for competitive basketball programs for him to join.
“The programs we found here in the Phoenix area were perfectly fine as a starting point to get children interested in playing the game,” Mimi says.
“What we really wanted to find for EJ was a facility that specialized in teaching the fundamentals of the game and had professional, experienced basketball coaches on the staff. We were willing to pay for private coaching for our son but just couldn’t find that advanced type of basketball coaching anywhere.”
Eventually, the couple was introduced to Coach Jevon Estelle — a renowned, 6-foot-1, former basketball player for Grand Canyon University — and decided that with the help and guidance from “Coach Von,” they would open up their own, state-of-the-art basketball training facility for kids, ages 6 to 14.
They opened the aptly named DreamTeam Academy (DTA) in a large, two-level facility on Dial Boulevard—right in the heart of the Scottsdale Airpark.
“When we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we decided to build it ourselves,” Mimi explains. “We believed a lot of other parents wanted to find the same type of advanced, nurturing, fundamentals-based basketball program for kids that we wanted to create.”
In the two years since its doors have opened, DTA has attracted more than 800 kids from across the Valley for their weekly, after-school training program. Their young students not only attend basketball classes during the week, they also sign up for special Saturday clinics, competitive weekend tournaments, holiday and summer day camps, and occasional Friday “Kids’ Night Out” events.
The facility features a brightly lit basketball gymnasium with all the necessary sports and conditioning equipment, as well as the Kids’ Club Level Lounge for kids to relax, play and socialize in after school and on the weekends. The lounge has video game consoles, a movie watching area, lots of books and board games, chess sets and a quiet homework room. There are also several, giant, soothing massage chairs in the facility for kids and parents.
DTA has also quickly become known among the Valley’s elementary school set as the place in town to have the best basketball-themed birthday party.
While Estelle works as the athletic director/head coach and Mimi works as the operations director, Corey is happy working behind the scenes as a co-owner and cheering EJ on at his weekly games and tournaments. Now 11 years old, EJ is already 6-foot-2 and views the DreamTeam Academy as his comfortable home away from home.
“Mimi is a wonderful matriarch of the club and brings a personal aspect to it that other clubs tend to lack,” says Pierre Smith of Scottsdale who has two sons in second and fifth grades.
“The coaches here are knowledgeable, professional and energetic, and have the right mix of discipline and fun to keep the kids motivated. The facility is convenient and offers amenities that allow us to drop our kids off a little early to practice and pick them up a little after, which is great flexibility for parents. My plan is for my kids to continue to grow with DTA and I’m happy to endorse them and refer them to others.”
What really sets DTA’s program apart from others is the fact that Estelle takes the time to properly teach children crucial basketball terminology and the important ABC’s of the game. Estelle calls it “basketball IQ building” and he quizzes all the children in the academy on their individual knowledge of the game.
“We don’t just teach shooting, passing and dribbling here,” Estelle says. “We also spend a lot of time talking about proper passing, ball handling and footwork, and we make sure every child has a clear understanding of the game.”
Scottsdale’s Jason Lamm enrolled his 8-year-old son in four-day-a-week practices. What impressed Lamm about DTA is the school’s “Code of Conduct” that emphasizes good sportsmanship, camaraderie and doing well in school.
“While skill and sportsmanship on the court are emphasized, academics and good citizenship off the court are equally stressed and important,” Lamm says. ν