Burke basketball helps athletes, students learn

Danielle Nelson, Features Editor

Blowing their whistles during practice and offering encouraging high fives after games, students volunteer as coaches for local youth basketball teams.

Though the coaches are there to help the kids become better basketball players, they still have more to learn themselves.

“I like coaching because I’m learning more about myself and being a leader through working with these girls,” junior Cathy Harwarth said.

Harwarth, along with junior Amanda Stuchel, coach a team of sixth grade girls. They have been coaching for two years and say it’s an enjoyable way to get involved with kids and get service hours.

“It’s cool to see improvement in the girls and know that we’re helping them get better,” Stuchel said.

Though there is a desire to win, senior Jacob Schreiman said it is important to make sure the kids are having a good time as well.

“If we’re winning by a lot we make an effort to get everyone on the team at least one point,” Schreiman said. “Last year in one game we got everyone one point, and it was really exciting.”

Even though a coach does not play in the game, the losses affect them the same as it does their players.

“Recently, we lost a game by one point in the final ten seconds of the game when a player missed a shot almost at the buzzer,” Schreiman said.  “There were also some poor ref calls so it was disappointing and kind of unfair.”

Student coaches use a variety of ways to find plays to use in the games. Websites, books and creating original plays are all ways to find game strategy.

“We have one play we came up with where to start, the girls will touch their hair to signal the play,” Stuchel said. “It’s cool because the male coaches don’t notice because playing with their hair is just something a sixth grade girl would do during a game. It tells all the other players to get wide and open up the lane.”

Though coaching is a commitment with practices and games every week, it is also an effective way to earn service hours.

“It’s a fun and good way to get service hours, during the winter it’s two and a half hours a week,” Schreiman said.
Not only do coaches fulfill their service hour obligations through spending time with the kids, for many, it is also a way to pass on their love of the sport to the next generation of athletes.

“I enjoy working with kids and passing on my passion for basketball to them,” Schreiman said.

Students who are now coaches were once in the position of their players, learning more about basketball through volunteer coaches.

“When we were in elementary school we both played and had high school coaches so we’re in their shoes now” Harwarth said.

To volunteer as a coach, visit the Burke Basketball website, www.burkebasketball.com and select the volunteer link. Coaches are needed for winter, spring, and summer seasons. The teams range from second to 12 grade.