This article appears in the Spring 2022 edition of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.
Coach Jason Curry’s earliest memories include basketball. He’d often accompany his dad to the gym and watch him play recreationally around New York City. Success on his high school team got him a four-year basketball scholarship to St. Michael’s College in Vermont. Following college, he worked at several major broadcasting networks as a video editor before leaving media to start Big Apple Basketball in 1999. In 2019, 20 years after founding Big Apple Basketball, he was honored as both the Jr. Knicks Coach of the Year and the Jr. NBA Coach of the Year.
Q. What got you interested in basketball? Did you play yourself?
I always remember seeing pictures of myself as a baby with a basketball in my hand. My dad was a recreational player here in New York City and he'd take me with him whenever he went to the gym. I always grew up around the game, following my dad around.
One of the things that my parents did for me at an early age was surround me with people who knew and understood the game and were able to mold and teach me not only from a basketball standpoint, but from a mentoring standpoint as well. It became one of those things where the more I was around it, the better I got. The opportunities I got created excitement for me as a kid and it propelled into a lifestyle.
Q. Did you play in school?
I played in high school and was blessed to get a four-year college basketball scholarship to St. Michael's college in Vermont. That got me into starting my own company, Big Apple Basketball. I was relatively young when I became an entrepreneur and never looked back.
Q. What kinds of things does Big Apple Basketball do?
We're a non-profit organization where we help parents and families navigate finding a school for their kids that would be a good fit. We help kids get scholarships. We help players wanting to play professionally overseas or those wanting to become coaches. We help people wanting to become agents. We’re an all-things basketball resource based in New York City, but we service athletes and families throughout the country and internationally.
Q. Is Big Apple Basketball first thing you've started?
Yes. I was a broadcast journalism major in college and worked for the first ten years in the television industry as a video editor, and I worked at local news stations full-time. Then I got a job working for the NBA doing video production.
During the college basketball season, I was also working as a college basketball color commentator and sideline reporter. So that gave me a chance to stay involved with the game. That's what helped get me in the Big Apple Basketball, because I was working in the space of college athletics. It really helped me cultivate a lot of relationships with the athletic directors and college coaches. So now, when I start programs in New York City to help kids, I have a natural relationship that I've already cultivated through my work. I basically created a bridge of my two passions and careers.
Q. Where did your passion for kids and youth come from?
I'm just naturally somebody who's always willing to give and help, but then I think of what I do with kids with my company or stuff that I do with FCA here, it stems from understanding that I grew up with so many people helping me. Without realizing it, I was born into an environment in which so many people poured into me. Because that was the culture I grew up in, it was a natural transition to instinctively want do that for others.
Q. How do you interface with Coach Manny and FCA?
I first met Manny two years ago in June 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Manny and I have a mutual friend, Roman Perez, who's a believer and one of my Big Apple Basketball coaches. He asked me to be a guest on one of his Instagram shows, and Manny was a guest on his show before me. I had no idea who Manny was and didn't have any ties to FCA, but listening to his interview there was just something about how he presented himself that caught my attention.
In August, another friend of mine reached out to me and said a friend of his, Manny Maldonado, works for Fellowship of Christian Athletes in New York City and was looking for potential board members. He connected us, and Manny began to tell me what FCA was all about. It wasn’t the best fit for me to become a board member, but Manny started engaging me from the standpoint of volunteering and learning more about FCA.
I came to realize that a lot of things that he was doing with FCA, I already had a lot of experience with doing Big Apple Basketball. I just love the vision. It was one of the first times where I realized how my gift of basketball and my walk as a man of God could merge. I began to see that I can use my influence for Christ in the realm of sports, and that’s a newfound journey that's helped me personally. I'm all in with FCA.
Q. Have you used any of FCA’s resources?
Manny walked me through The CORE; that was life-changing. By the time I finished those eight weeks with him, it was so powerful I had to share it.
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I wound up connecting with one of my old college teammates and I did The CORE with him. After that, I did it with four of my Big Apple Basketball coaches, then I did it with some high school and college student-athletes. I ended up doing 40 consecutive weeks of The CORE without a break in between.
Q. What was it that Manny shared that clicked and helped you merge your faith and basketball?
There are so many commonalities between sports and faith. For me, I was an expert in terms of understanding sports and what it takes to accomplish goals. As we were doing The CORE and how it was just so transferrable to sports, I was like, this is really all one and the same.
If I've been able to master this walk from a professional basketball standpoint, then I can transfer that and be able to not only apply it to myself, but to inspire others to want to take this walk with Christ and understand what is most important for us. The presence of the Lord is felt through me on or off a court. It's beautiful.
Q. Would you say this is a change in how you coach or how you live?
Yes. My maturation in my walk with God has allowed me to allow God to be more present in everything that I do, and to lead me. I no longer walk in the gym as Jason Curry, but I say, ‘God, please walk in before me, set the stage, and allow these people to see You before they see me.
Q. How do you take the message that “Everyone can be saved through Christ” to the players that are part of Big Apple Basketball?
I think that it's like being on a team. What is my role? One of my roles is helping people feel comfortable enough to want to meet and engage with Christ, which will then ultimately allow them to take the steps to be saved. Some of the people I'm with have been confused in their walks, or possibly never thought about having a serious relationship with God.
Q. Any more stories about how FCA has personally impacted you?
Manny did an event in New York last fall called the FCA Invitational. I took one boy around 10-years-old, his brother and another kid. Before we went in, we all prayed in the car together, and then as we left. Later, the father called and said that the youngest son told his parents that whenever they got in the car, he wanted to pray.
In our minds, we are coming together to go to the basketball event, and God begins to show how he has more of an appetite for Jesus Christ. Something so simple is changing the culture in a family.
Photos courtesy of Jason Curry and Unsplash