When they return to the basketball court after the run, Solomon says, "I saw a bunch of you walking. No one here, age of 12, 13, should be walking."
Then he puts them through a marathon of pull-ups and push-ups, crawls, duck walks ("Butt down! Butt down!") and kangaroo hops across the gym floor, hearing them groan, telling them, "Yeah, I know it hurts. That's the point."
The bigger point, Solomon tells them, is learning the discipline "to get you through high school into college or a good-paying job. A lot of young guys out there have no skills, nowhere to go, nothing to do. If you're going to succeed, you've got to start that process now - or, come senior year in high school, you're going to be lost."
All this happens before they touch a basketball. The next time they meet, there's a two-mile run and, finally, they start learning to dribble low and shoot a layup.
Solomon's inspiration is Sonny Hill, whose youth-basketball teams have affected thousands of kids, which is ironic because Solomon's boys were run off the court by better-conditioned Sonny Hill League boys last year.
"We got smoked because we couldn't run," Solomon says. "These kids play video games all day. They'll learn this isn't PlayStation."
Regardless of their win-loss record, Solomon's middle-schoolers are winners. "I see boys who are disrespectful and timid change into respectful, driven young men here," Solomon says. "When Terrel Cruz, now an eighth-grader, started with us, he lollygagged, lacked focus, just wanted to be one of the boys. He's matured into a fine young man who leads, urging the others to remain focused and dedicated."
Solomon credits the support of Spruance Principal Betty Klear; Pam Clack, conflict-resolution specialist for the school district; and Lauren Forbes and Cheryl Malone-Gargiulo, from Max Myers Rec across the street, with being the supportive "village" it takes to help his kids rise.
On Twitter: @DanGeringer