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Wisconsin RAP celebrates a decade of mentoring young basketball players

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 19:08:56-04

Ten years ago, Wisconsin RAP set out to help develop players in the Milwaukee area.

"There was a focus on winning, and just getting the basketball out there. We wanted to take more of a European approach and take a step back and set the foundational skills that are needed for success," said Anthony Mlachnik, co-founder of Wisconsin Rap.

Welcoming anyone at any age, the mission never changed, but the size of the program did.

"Whether you were a third grader, or you were getting ready to play college basketball. Or even in some cases if you were already playing college basketball or professional basketball," said Anthony. "We wake up today, going from one athlete, and Scott and me as two trainers, to now having 26 teams, probably 300 players per year on our travel team."

One of those travel teams is filled with some of the state's top high school talent.

"No matter who we are playing against, just always come out here and always compete. No matter who it is, it could be the top teams, the lowest team, it doesn't matter. We just come out and compete with a chip on our shoulder and be great," said Armani Jones, player out of Brown Deer.

"He always checks up on us and makes sure we have a gym to go to on the weekends. He asks us if we want to come to the gym to make sure we are working out and getting better, not just inside of practice, but outside of practice," said Greyson Pritzel, player out of West Allis Central.

"I didn't think I was going to get all this training and skill development, and just working out with people who want to compete, and have that next expectation is just amazing," said Jonah Gordon, a player from Australia now at St. Johns.

With a decade of work, Wisconsin Rap hasn't just created a family for local hoopers, but the coaches and trainers as well.

Recently diagnosed with lung cancer, Andrew Busalacchi has experienced this firsthand.

"Everyone, whether it's just been people who have just started coaching or people I have known for years have reached out, have sent text messages, have given financial donations, have donated meals, have offered to help us with childcare and all of that," said Andrew. "They've been incredible. They're kids but they are so much more grownup than I realize, just the way that they talk about things. They ask me if I'm going to be able to be back in the gym to see them later this summer. It's a driving force."

The impact Wisconsin RAP has had on its community is priceless and proof that whether it's life or basketball - fundamentals are key.

"We're teaching these things through basketball. But we are teaching kids that it's okay to persevere, it's okay to sacrifice for someone else," says Anthony.

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