For the Stein family, basketball is more than a sport. It’s a way to teach life lessons, stay healthy, and most importantly, spend quality time together.
Eric Stein has shared quality time through basketball with all three of his children. After prioritizing quality time while raising his two eldest sons, he strives to do the same for his youngest daughter, Elyssa, a junior at Mountain View High School. For Eric, basketball has served as a catalyst for conversation with his kids. “Once you get them away from their devices, and away from the noise, they start to open up,” he says.
Elyssa explains: “I’ve been playing basketball as long as I can remember. My half-brothers, Ryan and Matt, were playing high school and college games when I was a kid, and I was cheering them on from my stroller. My first memory of really playing basketball was at the Y.” Her dad coached her basketball league at the Y, all the way until high school.
Now on the Varsity Basketball team at school, Elyssa still makes time to share the sport with her dad. The father-daughter duo work side by side as referees every Saturday at El Camino YMCA.
“We’ve become a lot closer,” Elyssa points out. “I’m always going to remember this experience, just having fun with my dad. We’ll go on coffee dates after and talk. I have a connection and a bond with him that I didn’t have before.”
When Elyssa was playing in this league, she was learning about basketball and life from her dad, and now they are teaching those lessons together. “Even though you’re refereeing, you’re still sharing the Y core values while you’re teaching and learning.”
Elyssa, who now works out six days a week following her Dad’s example, didn’t understand why her dad was so committed to his health when she was a child. Elyssa recalls, “I would always ask him why he went to the gym every day and he would look me in the eyes and say, ‘because I want to be there for you.’”
She now understands his motivation stems from his deep love of family. “He has no goal of, ‘I want my muscles to be strong’, or, ‘I want to lose my weight’. He wants to be there for my mom and he wants to be there for me.”
“It’s priceless,” Eric explains. “The most valuable thing you can give to your child is your time.”
Recently retired from a long career in Sports and Recreation at universities including Princeton and Stanford, Eric now contributes at the Y as a Wellness Coach and a Youth Basketball Referee.
“I’m back giving back.” He says, “Sometimes I feel like I get as much out of working with these people as I’m able to give to them. It’s a gift.”
Elyssa knows from firsthand experience just how much her dad has to offer. “He’s always taught me to live your best life and be happy because you only have one life. If you’re going to be negative and upset, then what is the point?” She aspires to follow in his footsteps as a community leader, and even hopes to pursue a career in Sports and Recreation like her father.
Before she heads off to college to pursue her dreams, Eric and Elyssa will shape the lives of many local youth in their roles as referees and enjoy quality time together in the process.