Our Give Thanks Series continues with Kiki Campbell, manager of Youth Engagement and Fan Development for the New York Knicks. Kiki helps run a program called Junior Knicks, the New York Knicks youth basketball department. We asked her to share her experience in this role, her relationship with Backyard Sports Cares, and about the impact that sports and basketball, in particular, has had on her life and the lives of kids from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
LISTEN to our podcast with Kiki Campbell, Manager of Youth Engagement and Fan Development for the New York Knicks
BYSC: The New York Knicks/Westchester Knicks have been a good partner to us in the past and we wanted folks to understand a little bit about what you do. You’ve got an interesting program specifically designed for kids, called Junior Knicks. Tell us about that.
Kiki Campbell: This past August, I started my new role with the Junior Knicks, which is the New York Knicks youth basketball department. Previous to that role, I was the manager of business operations, specifically for the Westchester Knicks. So, I had my hands in everything, especially the youth basketball world in Westchester.
The Junior Knicks has been established for years, but in the past two seasons, it was pushed more to work and collaborate with organizations to help elevate their programs, as well as elevating their youth basketball coaches, and to also grow the game and sport of basketball.
BYSC: So, give us an example of some of the ways that you do that through Junior Knicks.
Kiki Campbell: Absolutely. One of our most exciting programs is the Junior Knicks Assist Program, which is a new initiative that started this season through a sponsorship with Fidelis Care. We partner with non-profit organizations to help raise funds for the organization through basketball games. So, all the ticket proceeds, silent auction, 90% of all net proceeds go back to the organization to fund their mission.
BYSC: How often do these basketball fundraisers take place? Is it a regular thing in Westchester?
Kiki Campbell: This is something new this year, and we’re contracted to do three. Our next two are not in Westchester, but the vision for this is to grow and to really expand how we work with non-profits. Once we have a game, and we are hoping to schedule one in February, any non-profit organization can go on the website to learn more and apply to host one of our benefit games.
BYSC: Tell us about your summer camp?
Kiki Campbell: The Knicks have had an amazing summer camp over the years. My director does a great job hosting these camps. This past summer over 200 kids had the opportunity to attend our basketball camp program. We also provide scholarships for some kids who are not able to pay full admission. We held two scholarship sessions in Bronxville this year. Over the course of 12-weeks, we go to different locations. So, aside from Bronxville, we host at Baruch, locations in New Jersey, the Hamptons, among other venues. When parents want to have some time off, they can send their kids to Knicks Camp. It’s a good time.
BYSC: How did you get involved with Backyard Sports? What are some of the things that you’ve done together?
Kiki Campbell: Our relationship started in 2014 with a cold call from me selling tickets. When I got Danny Bernstein on the phone, he’s like, “You have got a lot going on here, but I feel like we can gain more from this relationship. Let’s meet at City Limits.” Since then we’ve done a lot together. My organization has donated tickets from the Westchester Knicks and Danny has helped us by bringing families out to a game, and collaborating on small programming, such as basketball clinics or bringing athletes to the organizations we support, so kids and families can meet them. We work together toward a common purpose, which is to get kids involved in team sports.
BYSC: We really do thank you for that. So, what is your mission? What do you want to accomplish as it relates to kids, and helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and really flourish in the game of basketball?
Kiki Campbell: You know, it’s funny, because basketball means so much to me, and it’s done so much for aside from just being able to play and enjoy the sport. I just want to be able to share that experience with as many kids as possible, especially young kids that look like me, who may not have had all the support they needed in their upbringing. I want them to know that there’s more opportunity than what’s on the court. Basketball has brought me long-lasting relationships, long-lasting friendships, and it’s turned into a career for me that I never thought possible. I want to share my story, and help kids create their own story through this vehicle we call basketball. However that looks, I just want to be a part of it.
BYSC: Is there anything else you’d like to make sure folks know and understand as it relates to some of the programs and initiatives that you’re offering?
Kiki Campbell: Absolutely. We are shifting our strategic perspective over the next three to five years, and we want folks to follow us on social to keep up with the offerings and information we’re putting out to the community for kids. They can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Our handle is JuniorKnicks. Check out some of the programming that we have coming up in the next few months. Just continue to stay active and patient with us. We’re looking to build up the New York mentality in the next few years.
I like what Backyard Sports is doing as a whole. Not to be so broad, but in the community for kids it’s great. I truly appreciate what Backyard Sports and Danny has done for me in my professional career. It speaks volumes about the kind of person he is and who he surrounds himself with.
BYSC: So, if folks want to take a visit to your website, what is the URL?
Kiki Campbell: They can visit us at www.nba.com/knicks/junior