The themes at the Boys and Girls Club on Belmont Avenue were basketball and having fun, but the Providence Day boys' varsity basketball team hopes the lesson they taught reaches beyond the court.
The Chargers hosted a morning clinic for 48 boys and girls at the Salvation Army on Nov. 24, teaching the fundamentals of basketball and teamwork and leading them in drills and activities.
"We are showing them that basketball and teamwork is about having a good time but you have to be disciplined," said senior guard Connor Sullivan. "It is a good way to teach them fundamentals, teamwork and sportsmanship, but also try to teach them to set goals and show them what hard work can do."
The two-hour clinic included five skill stations that focused on ball handling, post moves, passing, one-on-one play and defense. Afterward, group activities including Knockout, buzzer-beaters and a five-on-five full-court game got everyone involved.
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Charger senior captains Sullivan, Eric Ivers and Kevin Hickson closed out the day by speaking on choosing the right friends, goal setting and the importance of education, lessons the high-schoolers hope will stick with the kids.
"I hope that they took away something positive from our speeches at the end," said Providence Day head coach Brian Field. "If one or two kids think about what was said today some time next week, then that will make all of this a success."
The Chargers, who have worked with Street Turkeys, a grassroots program developed by radio station WFNZ-AM (610) and the Second Harvest Food Bank to provide food and funds to feed local people in need, wanted to do something this year to help kids.
"It is great to be out here as a team and give back to the community at the same time," Sullivan said. "Some of these kids come from different backgrounds than maybe we do, so it is nice to come out here to show them a good time and have fun."
Having fun was the theme for the day, and there was plenty of laughing and smiling.
"We have programs like this about once every two weeks, and it really is just about the kids being respectful and having fun," said Anthony Buckson, assistant unit director at the Boys and Girls Club. "It really helps their self-esteem and gets them going, but the main thing is to get the kids to interact and have fun."
Freshman guard Jordan Watkins agrees it is about having a good time but hopes some of the players' serious messages stick with the kids and that they take them seriously and remember what was said.
"If they don't want to play basketball on a team that is OK, the big thing is to stay in school," Watkins said. "If I don't make it off a basketball scholarship I know that I will make it off my education. That is something my parents have always told me and what I hope they get out of this today."
Charger assistant coach Jonathon McIntyre said outings like this allow the players to take on more of a leadership role and make them communicate and work together while doing something positive for the community.
"It is about giving back the day before Thanksgiving and realizing we are all very fortunate for what we have. For us, life lessons are far more important to the team than wins and losses," McIntyre said. "As a coach, it makes me really proud to hear our seniors speak at the end of today. They had some good messages, and I hope the kids got something out of it."
As the Chargers wrapped up the clinic and headed for a team lunch, Field said it is important to do things as a team in the community.
"It's the day before Thanksgiving, and we could have gone to the gym and had a regular practice, but this is way more valuable than that would have been," Field said. "This is always something we like to do and it makes us a better team in the end and gives us the chance to work with kids from the community as a team."