10 Years


Life lessons can be found in many places. Over the years many Hoop Dreams players were given so much more than basketball training and workouts, they were part of something bigger. They were part of a team that expanded outside of the gym doors with friendships and a unique connection that could only be found through getting through workouts together. Chris Herren and the Hoop Dreams team mentored many who came into the gym and taught them to embrace challenges, overcome obstacles and to push themselves to be better. The results were impressive with many going on to play at the next level and even professionally, but the impact is immeasurable and will be felt for years to come.

We recently asked a few players to share their thoughts on their time in the gym, what they remembered most and what piece of advice or lesson they would share.

“In my years training under Chris Herren in the Hoop Dreams gym, I remember not necessarily the specific drills, but the intensity of every session. I remember doing a countless number of “seventeens” and the dreaded conditioning drills at the end. Each session was non-stop and would always push us further than we ever thought that we could be pushed. Training in this gym has taught me the value of hard work, dedication and that you really can accomplish anything if you are willing to push yourself. It also taught me the value and power of building relationships that I know will be lifelong friendships.

After high school, I continued my education at the University of Rhode Island. I decided that I wanted to try out for the women’s basketball team, so I started to train again with Hoop Dreams. I accomplished my goal and walked on to a Division 1 program in 2016. Today, I continue to use what I learned from Chris and the Hoop Dreams program and I help coach the Rogers High School girls’ basketball team.

One lesson that I have learned from working with and for the Hoop Dreams gym is the power of paying it forward. Chris Herren took the time and energy to improve my basketball game and to help me cope with adversity. He believed in my dream and never gave up on me. Now that I am older, I know that it is very important for me to take what I learned in this program and help the next generation. It has been quite a journey!”Josie Chaves

“I learned that you can always be pushed a lot harder than you think. Just to try to be the best you can be on and off the court, in all aspects of life. Hard work gave me the opportunity to play in front of many college coaches and earning a scholarship from Wichita State University where I will be attending next June.”Noah Fernandes

“Chris always pushed me to be the best I could be and instilled in me to be myself on and off the court. If it wasn’t for chris and putting the time in I would not of went on to play division 2 college basketball and start every single game of my 4-year career. The biggest lesson I learned was what you put into something is what you get out of it. If you work hard and believe in yourself you’ll reach your goals.”Kate McDonald

“Chris taught me to never give up no matter the situation. That anything is possible. If you are persistent and relentless you will prevail no matter the endeavor or obstacle presented in front of you. I was able to receive a scholarship to play basketball in college. I received my bachelor degree in international business. I have been accepted to MBA program for Fall of 2019.“ – Spencer Bode

As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Lessons2018-12-09T19:11:48+00:00


Many people would assume that it was just basketball players who reached out to Chris and the Hoop Dreams training staff in the early years. Although most were hoop players, one high school athlete had a goal of playing soccer at the collegiate level. Her name was Briel Crespi and to this day players in the gym recall her work ethic, drive and the endless hour of training she embraced in the summer heat on the hills of Fall River’s North Park, the fields of the Pennfield School or the blacktop at St. Philomena’s School.

Briel, an accomplished student athlete from Berkley, MA, played three seasons for Lasalle Academy in Providence, RI prior to transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for her senior season. At Lasalle Academy she helped her team to win back to back RI State Championships and went on to be named captain of her team at IMG Academy. When faced with a decision on where to attend college, Briel opted to stay closer to home and committed to play Division I soccer for Brown University from 2011-2015.

We recently caught up with Briel who lives in Los Angeles working for a talent and literary agency and asked her to share some thoughts about her time in the gym with Chris and the Hoop Dreams team.

What do remember most about the skills you were taught on and off the court/field?

“Chris Herren taught me the importance of Mental Toughness. By definition, mental toughness is the ability to work hard and respond resiliently to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals. Time in the Hoop Dreams gym allowed me to improve athletically while also strengthening my self-confidence, ability to deal with adversity and commitment to mastering a craft. Chris’s ability to lead by example, provide advice and guidance and teach mental toughness, has helped me far beyond the court/ field.”

If you could share one moment, piece of advice or lesson from your experience in the Hoop Dreams gym what would it be?

“There have been so many great moments training in the Hoop Dreams gym (and on the nearby soccer fields) that it’s hard to just pick one! Chris’s presence alone makes you want to work harder and push yourself to the next level. Training in the Hoop Dreams gym prepared me to reach my goal of playing division one college soccer.

Here are some of my favorite memories: Training at North Park and sprinting up the hill with a weighted vest and weights in my hands or Chris holding my feet in a handstand position as I (hand) walked myself up the hill. Training at St. Philomena and wearing a weighted vest, using hang weights while balancing a weighted pole on my shoulders as I did lunges uphill. Plus beating Chris in a 20-yard sprint (there is video proof) and training at Penfield in double sessions with some of the most elite athletes in the country.

Most of all my favorite part about the Hoop Dreams gym is that when you stepped on the court; gender, age, race did not matter. What mattered was your ability, attitude and work ethic. Chris made me a better athlete and a better person. He has overcome a great deal and has used his own experiences to help each and every person he interacted with on and off the court. I am forever grateful to him and his team.”


As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Players – Briel Crespi2018-12-02T19:03:06+00:00

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Players – Andrew Chrabascz

Over the years, many players entered the Hoop Dreams gym with a dream and a goal. For most it was never about playing at the next level, it was more about pushing themselves personally. To build confidence, sharpen their basketball skills and experience competitive game play to make the middle school team or travel team. To learn from some of the best basketball coaches in Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts and maybe realize a dream to play at the high school or prep school level and for some, the collegiate level.

With almost ten years of training there are so many players who have made an impact on the Hoop Dreams team and inspired us. Over the next few weeks we will dive a little deeper into some of the players journeys, check in to see where they are today and ask them to share some of the lessons or pieces of advice, they learned through their years in the Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren gym.

One of the first players to walk into the gym was Andrew Chrabascz. Coming off a stellar Freshman season at Portsmouth High School, the 6’7” forward was looking for personalized training to get his game to the next level. His father who had played college ball and then professionally, had heard that Chris was starting to train players and Andrew was ready to learn.

Andrew spent long hours in the gym, with the drive to get better and the work ethic to never settle. From a state title at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, RI to Cushing Academy and winning the NEPSAC championship, to accepting a full scholarship to Butler University and scoring 1,271 points during his college career, Andrew Chrabascz has accomplished his dreams on and off the court.

We recently caught up with Andrew who is in his second year playing professional basketball in Belgium and asked him to share some thoughts about his time in the gym with Chris and the Hoop Dreams team.

What do remember most about the skills you were taught on and off the court?

“Chris helped me so much with skills both on and off the court. But the relationship we instantly made will always be the best part.”

If you could share one moment, piece of advice or lesson from your experience in the Hoop Dreams gym what would it be?

“Don’t ever let someone outwork you. I wasn’t always the most talented player in the Hoop Dreams gym, but Chris drilled the mentality of always being the hardest worker. With that mindset I have now put myself in a profession I have always dreamed about.”

Learn more about Andrew’s journey and the impact Chris and the Hoop Dreams team had as chronicled by Fox Sports during Andrew’s Senior season at Butler.

One Dream: Andrew Chrabascz


As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Players – Andrew Chrabascz2018-12-02T18:48:14+00:00


Through the years, the players who trained in the Hoop Dreams gyms were taught by some of the best teachers of the game in Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. The hours were long and through the clinics, camps, small groups and individual workouts the players developed a love for the game.

The workout requests and clinics all grew at a rapid rate as word began to spread of the Hoop Dreams programs. To accommodate the growing numbers of players in the gym, Chris assembled a team of trainers and added a second gym location in Riverside, RI. As we look back on those years in the gyms, our team is grateful to those who stood side by side with Chris teaching the game and making a positive impact in the lives of so many players from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and across the United States.

Meet the Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren team of trainers over the past nine years and read their reflections on their time in the gym.

Jameson Guimond was a Durfee High teammate of Chris’s and now serves as the Durfee High School head coach. For three years Jameson shared his knowledge of the game with players through workouts, camps and clinics. Coaching basketball now for 10 years, Jameson remembers the high intensity of the workouts the most as he looks back.

“Great student athletes that worked hard on their game in a great workout program. The high intensity of the workouts was always fun to be a part of.”

Bob Eagan, a personal trainer and member of the Hoop Dreams training team for two years, was instrumental in developing conditioning and training programs for the players. He later went on to help Chris and Heather start the Herren Project and work with those seeking navigation for substance use disorder. What he remembers most from his time in the gym?

“Boot camp workouts outside Pennfield gym. Pushing athletes to their maximum ability while having fun at the same time. Teaching the URI men’s basketball team boxing workouts…the laughter and enjoyment that came with it. Also, connecting with young men and women on a spiritual and emotional level during these training sessions.”

John “Kav” Kavanagh has been coaching basketball for 16 years at the high school level and ran the Riverside, RI gym for three years. Helping to establish a full weight room in the basement of St. Brendan’s, Kav not only focused on fundamental skills, but also utilized the weight room and conditioning to develop the total player. The commitment and work ethic are two of the traits that Kav mentioned standing out most as he looked back.

“I think the thing I remember most is the commitment and hard work that the kids put in. Whether it was an individual, small group or clinic, kids came prepared to work and we definitely saw improvements in their game. Having spent most of my time at St. Brendan’s, we had a terrific group of players at different levels of their career and they always came prepared to give it their all. Whether in the gym working on skills, in the weight room or the conditioning at the end of a workout. As a HS coach, I was able to workout a lot of kids that I coached against during the regular HS season and it was fun to get to know them off the court and see them grow.”

Frank Brow, a personal trainer and basketball coach for now twenty-five years, was one of the first coaches Chris reached out to when expanding the Hoop Dreams programs. Based at the Pennfield School in Portsmouth, RI, Frank not only ran workouts and clinics over the eight years, but was there Sunday mornings for pick-up games and served as a camp director. Frank’s basketball knowledge and drive to help the players be their best on and off the court was a true asset to our team. What he remembers most from his time in the gym?

“The things I remember most are the intensity of the scrimmages, how all the drills were run at game speed and that all the players were treated equally no matter of their skill level.”

Brian Doyle joined the Hoop Dreams team after reaching out through an e-mail and volunteering to help with a player development clinic for one week in the summer of 2011. Chris quickly noticed the enthusiasm, dedication and expertise that Brian brought to his training sessions each and every time he stepped on the floor. Now seven years later, Brian has served as the lead trainer, camp director and worked out players from the middle school to collegiate level including some professional players in their off seasons. He continues to provide basketball training with the dedication he exhibited that first day in 2011. A true student of the game, Brian remembers most the kids and parents that have passed through the gym doors over the years.

“I remember the mentorship and guidance of Chris every step of the way. The kids and the parents are what I’ll remember the most… The relationships, the trust and commitment from every kid and parent. It’s been a blast!”

Looking back at the past ten years, Chris shared his thoughts on the hours he spent in the gym with a team of dedicated trainers all working together for the love of the game. “The training team was an important part of the Hoop Dreams culture. They were coaches who believed in my vision to create a safe place to explore the sport of basketball and find success in hard work, sweat and skill development., said Chris. “They all are an important part of my journey and I am grateful.”


As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Trainers2018-11-16T16:47:33+00:00


On May 31, 2009 a story ran in the Boston Globe highlighting Chris’s journey, the struggle and the gratitude he felt to be in recovery and living one day at a time sober. It also mentioned that he hoped to start a basketball school for kids.

Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren was started in June of 2009 with just a few players and people who believed in Chris and the power of recovery. Hours of dribbling, conditioning, skill repetition, sweat, tears and hard work were logged in, one hour at a time on the court at St. Philomena’s in Portsmouth, RI during the early years and then on the courts at the Pennfield School and St. Brendan’s in Riverside. Chris captured in his own words the start to his renewed journey with basketball in his memoir, Basketball Junkie.

“In the Boston Globe article, it said how I was thinking of starting a basketball school. The next day or so I got a call from a Boston lawyer and he asked me if I would work out his son. The word started to get out, and a former Durfee star reached out about his daughter and a local Portsmouth High School player who had just finished his freshman year reached out. More people were hearing about what I was doing, and I knew I needed a gym in Portsmouth, because I wasn’t going to have a license for the next two years.

There were a couple of places that said no, and then I got a meeting with the principal of a Catholic elementary school, less than two miles from my house. Her name is Donna Glavine. She asked me some questions, then she said: `We’re a Christian school, and we believe in second chances. So I’m willing to let you use the gym.’’

But would enough kids come? More important, would parents let their kids come?  From the beginning, as the word quickly grew, kids came to the basketball school “A Hoop Dream With Chris Herren’’.

At my camps there are only four rules: encourage each other, no bullying, no laughing at one another, don’t make anyone feel less than you are. I never walked across the lines of a basketball court in my life without feeling stress, and there’s no way I’m going to let that happen to my kids. I want kids to have a good memory of the workout or camp to learn the game, learn what being on a team means, learn something about basketball.

The training team expanded over the years, but the court rules remained the same. Everyone is welcome, everyone is someone and everyone has something to learn. As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Gym2018-11-11T17:05:21+00:00


In December of 2013, Chris was asked to write a letter to his younger self as a part of the CBS This Morning’s Emmy-nominated series Note to Self. The letter he wrote provides powerful words of self-reflection and resolve as he looked back on his life at five years sober.

“Writing this letter was one of the hardest life assignments that I have been given, but I think everyone should take the opportunity to reflect, dig deep and share your journey,” said Chris, who celebrated 10 years of recovery on August 1, 2018. “All too often we want to forget the struggles which have shaped and formed us into who we are today. Words can be powerful, inspiring and life changing.”

As we look to 2019 and celebrating 10 years of impacting lives on and off the basketball court, we are grateful for Chris’s willingness to share and the resolve to use his life experience to reach JUST ONE and make a difference.

Dear Christopher,

I am writing to tell you that the path you take is tough one but you will survive and be very happy someday.

When I look at you I see a kind, smart, athletic boy. You come from a lineage of basketball and there are unreasonable expectations. You are programmed to be tough and win.  

High school you play in sold out gyms getting taunted. Wearing your name on your jersey isn’t easy and the scoreboard has much more meaning than fun. As your spotlight get brighter, you feel uncomfortable and confused not knowing your losses are as important as the wins… both will teach you valuable life lessons.

At 15 you won’t understand the power of the red solo cup full of beer and the blunt that will lead you to stronger and more dangerous drugs.  

Your senior year, the country’s top colleges recruit you. But you choose to stay close to home. Fall River is your safe place. Your relationship with your mom is unconditional and immense. Your father and brother offer you protection from the madness around you..and Heather is your sanity and one of the best things you hang onto in your life..and one day she will be your wife.

At Boston College, you will be introduced to one line of cocaine, and although you promise yourself one time, that one line will be the reason you get kicked off campus and barely make it through Fresno State… and that one line will last 14 years. And although you’re gifted enough to get drafted into the NBA by the Denver Nuggets, your struggles will continue chasing that ONE line.

At 22 you will spend $20 on a little yellow pill called OxyContin and that 40mg pill will turn into 1600mgs (a day) and that $20 will turn into $20,000 a month drug habit… And that one little yellow pill will have you outside the Boston Garden in your Celtics uniform 10 minutes before a game waiting for your dealer. That little yellow pill will strip you of your NBA dreams and goals and you will no longer be invited back into the league. Two years later that one little yellow pill will become a syringe and stay in your arm for the next six years. Addiction will follow you wherever you play. Addiction will be your toughest opponent.

As a husband and father you will spend every dime you ever made on drugs and put your family in debt. You will feel defeated and at times suicidal. But one day please know you will find it in you to fight back.

On August 1, 2008 your awaking begins. You are granted a day off campus from treatment to see the birth of your son. Yet again, you fail. After his birth you walk out of the hospital and go get high. Upon returning from your relapse your counselor tells you to pick up the phone and promise your wife you will never call her again, and to tell your three kids their dad has died in a car accident because you don’t deserve a family and you should let them live. BUT instead you pray for sobriety and from that prayer on, God willing, you will stay sober.

Treatment and faith gave you sobriety. It will be your life’s greatest gift. Sobriety will enable you to become the man you always wanted to be. You will find your life’s purpose from your struggles and you will share your story in hope that it may help JUST ONE.  You will be a voice for those who are sick and suffering. You will no longer have shame and you will live ONE day at a time.

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS ON AND OFF THE COURT: The Journey2018-11-04T18:19:21+00:00


Hoop Dreams with Chris Herren is set to celebrate 10 years of providing motivation and helping others find their dreams on and off the court. For 10 weeks beginning Thursday, November 1st, the Hoop Dreams team will look back at the journey and capture some of the moments, memories and supporters for whom we are so grateful as we move forward.

Hoop Dreams is part of a larger community, established by Chris and Heather Herren. Their non-profit organization, Herren Project, focuses on preventing substance use disorder, breaking the stigma and guiding individuals and their families through recovery. The community also includes Herren Wellness, a health and wellness organization that offers innovative prevention and recovery treatment solutions, with a focus on self-discovery.

While basketball is the vehicle that made much of this possible, we are developing a new focus for 2019. We cannot wait to share the next part of our journey with you!