As a professional basketball player in Poland a few years ago, Asya Bussie didn’t have much to do besides basketball, so she spent a lot of time thinking about what she wanted to do when she returned home to Baltimore.
She wanted to give back after enjoying stellar basketball careers at Seton Keough and West Virginia, but she wasn’t sure how. Pondering her own youth, she found the answer.
“I thought about how there was no after-school program for me to go to while I was waiting for (Amateur Athletic Union basketball) practice,” said The Baltimore Sun’s 2009 Girls Basketball Player of the Year. “I would just go to my coach’s house and do my homework and wait ‘til practice while my mom was working.
“The end goal is for kids to have a safe place to come after school where they can get homework done – if they need a tutor, a tutor’s there – and there’s also a court to work out on. I wish I had had that.”
Bussie, 26 and the mother of a 14-month-old daughter, incorporated her non-profit organization, Be More Inc., two years ago, aiming to eventually have its own space to house the program and offer homework help and after-school activities for middle school boys and girls.
She said there’s a gap in after-school care. Younger children are usually in day care and high school students can stay at school until practice. When she was in middle school, her AAU coach Melvin Williams, father of her Seton Keough teammate B.J. Williams, provided the safe place for Bussie between school and AAU practice.
Be More Inc. started with a basketball camp that has expanded from a weekend to a week-long day camp for boys and girls 6 to 14. This year’s camp is scheduled for Aug. 21-25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Randallstown Community Center. Bussie has about 50 players signed up and said there is room for a few more boys and girls.
While she said she wishes she had come up with the idea for Be More Inc. sooner so it would be further along in its development, her family and friends have no doubt she will succeed and several have pitched in to help, including two former Seton Keough teammates.
Katelyn Fischer is the director of operations and Tenia Fetters is director of finance. Her brother Gerald Bussie is director of human relations and her mother Loretta Bussie also helps out.
“What she’s trying to do is very important, the after-school care,” said Loretta Bussie, who raised three children as a working mother. “Thank goodness for Asya’s coach. He would pick her up (after school) and I would go to practice and pick her up there. What about the kids who don’t have any activities? It’s kind of hard for them to have after-school care like this.”
Fischer, a teammate of of Bussie’s on the Seton Keough team that won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title and the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational championship in 2009, was eager to help her friend.
“Seeing the way Breezi (Hutchen with U.S.E. Basketball) has done her non profit, I think there’s a lot of area for growth, especially of this need, just because everyone wants Baltimore to be a better place,” Fischer said. “Asya’s really dedicated and everyone who works for the non-profit is really dedicated to making it something big where we can actually have a building space to help people.”
In addition to the basketball camp and fundraising, Be More Inc. also sponsors a dinner for the homeless at Christmas and keeps part of Liberty Road in Randallstown, where Bussie grew up, clean.
“While we’re building this, I wanted to do more than have one camp once a year,” Bussie said, “so we started to feed the homeless at Christmas. After that, people were like, ‘We want to be involved. What’s next?’ It kind of evolved from just a camp now to an organization that is coming together to do things in Baltimore even though that wasn’t the original plan.”
Earlier this month, the Bussies, Fischer, Fetters and other volunteers were out early on a Saturday morning picking up trash along the stretch of Liberty Road just west of the Randallstown Community Center.
Bussie, who works in customer service for Under Armour, said the number of Be More Inc. volunteers is growing .
“One thing about Asya,” said her brother Gerald, “when she cares about something, she’s really passionate. She puts her heart into it. Every year, Be More had been growing, touching more people.”
For more information about Be More Inc., go to the web site, bemoreinc.org.