HLB Background & History
While in the midst of interviewing for various college coaching positions, Higher Level Basketball founder, Coach Rob Raque, was asked by a friend to do some skill work with his son in late summer 2002. That began an odyssey that has blossomed into what is today Higher Level Basketball (HLB). HLB offers not only skill instruction, but also camps, clinics, teams, recruiting services, custom events and assistance for organizations and in 2008, the addition of web-based video instruction and sales, plus a gear line.
Coach Raque initially pursued HLB as a part-time "side" business, however given the strong interest that ensued throughout the first year, he decided in late 2003 to make HLB his full-time pursuit. The original focus was to offer individual instruction/skill coaching, summer basketball camps and recruiting services for players. During this time, HLB had about a dozen players taking skill lessons regularly.
The 2004 calendar year saw the first formal marketing and business plans for HLB. By late January of 2004, HLB boasted 18 players in instruction. The first marketing efforts were centered on grade and middle school players, especially those playing in the largest local league, the CSAA.
The efforts paid off, as by March 15th of 2004, the skill clientele had grown to 43 players - a 150% growth spurt. Instruction clientele would grow to 50 by the last half of 2004. In addition, the spring of 2004 brought plans for the first set of HLB summer camps - designed and co-run by Coach Raque and Bob Valvano, for whom Raque had been an assistant at Bellarmine.
That spring also brought the first HLB teams. After HLB received virtually unending requests in the first quarter of 2004 from clients to form teams, Coach Raque agreed to put together a pilot team program. In spring 2004, there was to be one boy's team and one girl's team. However, no one was prepared for the level of interest that HLB would garner and the spring 2004 team season ended up with three boy's and one girl's team.
Since it's inception in 2002, HLB has added additional programs and grown in each. The highlights of that growth:
Instruction has grown to an average of 70 players per week in 2009, with over 250 packages sold per year. Private 1-on-1 and small group/team instruction have been added to the program.
Camps and Clinics have grown from just 2 weeks of boy's summer day camps to 3 weeks, with day camps for girl's having been added, as well as Pee Wee camps, Specialty camps (Shooting, Position), a Preseason Prep Program and Christmas break camps. HLB now also offers numerous coaching clinics in both public and private, custom-made settings.
The Team Program
, which started so modestly in 2004 has grown each year, boasting 10 teams in 2009, including 5 at the high school level.
2010 will see the inception of a more comprehensive girl's team program, with special emphasis on high school girl's AAU.
The high school teams, which play traditional travel based AAU basketball, have played in dozens of tournaments across the region.
From those high school teams, 19 of 24 players who graduated and wanted to conitnue playing after high school are now playing college basketball.
This program has also seen the adoption of an Advisory Board and part-time staff.
A simple Website was added in 2006 to help disseminate information on HLB.
That site was reconstructed in 2007 and is now in the process of becoming a full service, interactive site with video based
calendars, performance review applications and interactive calendars by summer 2010. The site has tripled it's "hits"
since being reconstructed.
HLB's growth has also seen the addition of 10 other skill instruction coaches plus a half dozen other team coaches over the last 4 years. It has also seen the use of as many as 10 different gyms in any one season.
As we head into the future, Higher Level Basketball will continue to grow and adapt to the ever-changing environment of basketball and athletics in order to offer improvement and advancement for each player who seeks us out. This process will continue to include the ethical application of professional coaching techniques and training for all HLB staff.