Posted By HealthJox

Forming a professional basketball team in the American Basketball Association (ABA) isn’t for the faint of heart.  This sort of thing can be accomplished with strong grassroots team and mission to discover the very best athletes in the city.  Rueben Mclaughlin did just that in 2023.  He threw caution to the wind and formed his first ABA team called the Coney Island Thunder.  Building out his roster of coaches, management and players, proved to pay off as his team made it to the playoffs and then the championship.  As fate would have it, the Coney Island Thunder won their first “East Region Black Division Conference Championship” within their first year of launching!  This is quite an accomplishment for this Coney Island native.

Coney Island Thunder Playoff and Championship Games


The Magic of Coney Island

Coney Island, USA is known to foster some of the best breakout NBA stars in America.  Brooklyn being the largest New York City borough, makes this statement that much more impactful.  With names like Lance Stephenson, Stephon Marbury, Norman Richardson, Quincy Douby, Chris Taft, Jamel Thomas, Sebastian Telfair, and Isaiah Whitehead, Coney Island have proven to be the epicenter of the basketball culture.  We will continue the legacy by producing stellar athletes to present to the NBA.  One of the most important goals is to get our Youth off the streets and active, pursuing their dream of becoming a professional athlete.  It all begins at the gym.  This is where we will not only improve their game, but also retrain their minds to become successful and responsible citizens.


About Rueben McLaughlin

Owner of the Coney Island Thunder – Rueben Mclaughlin played on Junior Varsity and then Varsity level basketball at Lincoln H.S.  While he was attending Southern Vermont College in Bennington, VT, he played basketball as a 4-year Letterman at a Division 3 Level, which was part of Division Conference  – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  Moving through the ranks from Assistant Basketball Coach for girls and boys teams to head supervisor and coordinator of gyms in Brooklyn, Rueben discovered the impact that athletics have on inner city youth.  Rueben was the 2nd all-time steals & assistant leader at Southern Vermont College. Rueben is the former head coach of the Abraham Lincoln H.S. women’s basketball program and head coach of the women’s Program at Kingsborough Community College.  He was also the assistant Athletic Director at Nazareth H.S.

According to Rueben, “The Coney Island Thunder brand is not just an athletic company.  We have a heart for the Community of Coney Island and at the end of each year, we give back to underserved Youth.  As we strategically set up programs for Youth to get active and become healthier citizens, we offer all our sponsors to get involved and be a part of the solution.”


Rueben Mclaughlin – owner of Coney Island Thunder.


Rueben continues, “Our mission is to represent the vibrant and diverse community of Coney Island through the sport of basketball. We are committed to providing high-quality, entertaining, and competitive experiences for our fans, while also promoting positive values such as teamwork, perseverance, and community engagement. We strive to create a culture of excellence both on and off the court, by building a strong team that reflects the values of our community, and by actively contributing to the social and economic development of Coney Island. We provide opportunities for local talent to showcase their skills and to develop their potential as athletes and individuals. Above all, we aim to inspire and unite our community through the passion and excitement of basketball.”

“Our objective is to establish the Coney Island professional basketball team as a competitive and successful franchise in the league, while also fostering a strong connection with the local community and promoting a positive image of the team both on and off the court. This will be achieved through strategic player recruitment, effective team management, community outreach initiatives, and a commitment to excellence in all aspects of the organization. Ultimately, the goal is to build a strong fan base and elevate the profile of the team within the league, while also providing an exciting and entertaining experience for fans of all ages.”

Dewry DuRoi Bradford – Executive Director of HealthJox Foundation, Inc. sat down with Rueben after experiencing the playoffs and the championship game and this is what Rueben said, “I’m really a big educator… that’s what I do at heart… that’s my thing… I’m 30-years in the Board of Ed (Education), teaching kids and that’s what I want to hang my hat on when it’s all said and done… that I dedicated myself to these kids’ lives.  Basketball just happens to be my passion… cause it’s not what I am, it’s what I do.”


The Team

The new kids on the block – Coney Island Thunder joined the ABA Top 25 Power Rankings in week 3 and remained the entire season.  Going 16 and 6 in the regular season, undefeated at home and #6 in a  competitive east division. As the playoffs began The Coney Island Thunder came ready.  Their readiness definitely showed in the playoff games!  On March 17th, they crushed the Westchester Stars – beating them 164 to 100. The entire team’s energy was on 100!  By the 4th quarter, it virtually turned into an exhibition.  The following weekend was the championship game and they looked strong and ready to go.  Led by Coach Maurice “Mo” Brown, this game played out like a story straight out of a sports fairytale.  With jaw dropping dunks and power drives to the basket, their athletic ability was undeniable.  They accomplished exactly what they set out to do.  Coney Island Thunder emerged victorious the first year of their existence.


Coney Island Thunder Team Roster: Melquan Collins: #1; Xavier “Lights Out” Boyd: #2; Tyler “TB” Bourne: #3; Kelvin Gonzalez: #5; Edson Avila: #6;  Marcus Buckridge: #8; Nicolas “Nick” Leon: #9; Michael Harrison: #10; Donald “Man Man” Flores: #11; Terrell Fullerton: #12; Tyrek Sanders: #13; Demarcus Fisher: #14; Jason Primus: #15; Travis Charles: #17


Shout Outs

On behalf of the Basketball Community, HealthJox would like to say a special thanks to the staff of Coney Island Thunder: Rueben Mclaughlin – Owner; Shawn Pratt – Co-Owner; President Sheena Martin; Vice President Tronnette Jenkins, Treasurer Minerva Brister; Merrill Davis – General Manager; Maurice “Mo” Brown – Head Coach; English Tillery – Head Trainer/ Player Development; Bernard Mitchell – Assistant Coach; Wayne James – Player Development Assistant; Felicia Rose – Marketing Director; Tracy Hernandez – Cash Manager; Joseph Packer – Community Liaison; Kaity Packer – Official Team Scorer; LaMeesha Nunn – Administrative Assistant; Micheal Bellamy – Commentator; Daniel Weiss – Public Address Announcer; Sharone H. Ocean – Security Management; Octavius White.  This season was dedicated to Player Development Assistant – Daniel Richardson who passed away during 2023.  REST IN PEACE.


Sponsors: Key Food; Coney Island Lighthouse Mission; Sports Fan Base Network; Commit to the Dream Foundation; Subway; HealthJox LLC – Branding.

Click to watch the Championship Game review:  


Nathifa King – Writer/Kayla Swindell – Editor

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