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IPS Student to Compete in NBA Math Hoops Global Championship

Jovana Sekukovski and Jacob Gregory

Jovana Sekulovski, a fifth grade student at William McKinley School 39, is taking her math skills to New York City this week to participate in the NBA Math Hoops Global Championship June 21–24.

Using the skills developed by playing a board game that incorporates NBA and WNBA stats, Sekulovski will be joined by members of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. To qualify for application to the global championship, students must play a minimum of 25 games of NBA Math Hoops and complete 10 curriculum units over the course of a program season. The board game helps the individuals learn fundamental math skills in a fun and engaging way.

Students must also display a high degree of growth through the program, a dedication to practicing good sportsmanship, and an ability to overcome adversity either inside or outside the classroom. Students meeting these criteria are nominated by their program educator to apply, and participants are selected from the pool of applicants. Each NBA Math Hoops coach at IPS was eligible to nominate their students. Final selections were made by the Learn Fresh Team, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing innovative STEM learning experiences that empower educators and inspire students.

“The partnership with the Pacer organization and NBA Math Hoops has provided not only Jovanna — who was chosen to represent us in New York — but also all of the students at William McKinley who participated in the program throughout the year, the opportunity to access experiences they would not have had otherwise,” said, Deana Harger-Perry principal of William McKinley. “This is why community partnerships are vital to the success of our students.”

Sekulovski competed in the program overseen by 2023 NBA Math Hoops Teacher of the Year Jacob Gregory, a sixth-grade teacher at William McKinley. He has been with IPS for 17 years, spending the last decade teaching six grade math and science.

“Jovana is a great student inside and outside of the classroom,” Gregory said. “She seeks out knowledge and has a drive to be the best student she can be.  Jovana will be a fantastic representative of PS&E, Indianapolis Public Schools, and William McKinley.  

Gregory led William McKinley’s first Math Hoops Club, serves on the school leadership team, and is a senior mentor for IPS, assisting with the development and recruitment of student teachers.  

NBA Math Hoops was made possible in Indianapolis by an $800,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation.

The NBA Math Hoops Global Championship, formerly the NBA Math Hoops National Championship, is the flagship event of the NBA Math Hoops program, convening students from across the U.S. and around the world for three days of competition, learning and fun. This year’s event is taking place in conjunction with the 2023 NBA Draft, with participants drawn from over 206,000 students who participated in NBA Math Hoops programming during the 2022–23 season. Throughout the event, students will participate in STEM activations with key partners, explore New York City, and compete to be named the NBA Math Hoops Global Champion.

The 2023 global championship features teams of students from across the U.S., as well as teams from Australia and South Africa. As part of the NBA Africa initiative and through a partnership with NBA Africa and Boys and Girls Clubs of South Africa, Learn Fresh has implemented NBA Math Hoops in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the past two seasons, and two students are representing Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, at this year’s event. In addition, two students have traveled from Melbourne, Australia, to represent The Huddle, the community arm of the North Melbourne Football Club, where students have participated in NBA Math Hoops programs since 2021.

The 2023 global championship participants include nominees from the 2022–23 NBA Math Hoops season representing 23 regions, including 17 NBA and WNBA markets. The participants reflect the diversity of NBA Math Hoops program students across the U.S., which are a combined 50% Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino and a nearly equal gender split (46% female-identifying, 53.5% male-identifying). Students in Grades 4–6 represent 89% of participants. Since 2012, NBA Math Hoops has served over 750,000 students in partnership with 27 NBA and WNBA teams and founding partners including the NBA, Hasbro, and Getty Images.