The Mepham girls basketball team participated in the PAL/CYO No Zone Basketball Clinic on Saturday morning at the Nassau Boces Jerusalem Avenue Elementary School.
The team aided young kindergarten and elementary school students in basic basketball and teamwork skills. The program consists of two eight-week sessions lasting three hours each on Saturday’s during those periods.
Ray Anderson, whose daughter, Megan, is a prominent varsity player for the Lady Pirates as just an eighth grader, has been running the clinic for the past six years and also coaches a Saint Barnabas CYO basketball team.
Frank Gilroy began this program years ago and has since passed on the leadership role to Anderson, who found it necessary to keep such a great program for young kids going strong.
“I felt the need to continue it and not let this thing go to waste when Frank Gilroy moved away,” Anderson said. “I had to step up because it is a big commitment. My daughter, Megan, and all of these other girls come down to help out every Saturday.”
Along with the team, Mepham girls varsity coach Jim Mulvey and junior varsity coach Janine Bizelia, amongst other coaches and parents, were in attendance to assist.
“We have been doing a basketball camp during the summer, trying to get little kids active into basketball early,” Mulvey said. “The girls know that people helped them when they were younger. Now that they have had some success, they are trying to give back to these kids and give them a head start.”
Not all of the girls got to experience clinics at such a young age, such as junior Kristen O’Brien.
“When I was their age, I didn’t get to experience events like this, so I definitely enjoy giving back to the community,” O’Brien said. “I am sure they feel good seeing role models helping out in that it makes them feel special.”
Senior Jillian Picinich used her love for basketball to be able to give back to the next generation in order to try to get kids interested in the game at an early age.
“This is all new to me. I love playing basketball, so helping the kids is very fun and I love to be a good role model for them,” Picinich said. “It is great that our team doing this and helping because in the future, they could be us.”
Many of the youngsters, who go to different schools in Bellmore, Merrick, Wantagh and East Meadow, are learning valuable lessons and are being adapted into a positive atmosphere put on by Anderson and the Mepham community.
“It feels good to help them and be able to help start a new thing for them,” sophomore Nicole Castaldo said. “It is good to show them what Mepham is all about and it is just good to be able to give back.”
A young kindergartener named Dillon, although a bit timid, expressed the joy the program strives to get out of children.
“I learned how to crossover, dribbling left and right and side to side,” young Dillon said.
Kaitlyn was just another of the 50+ students on hand to learn new basketball skills at Anderson’s Clinic.
“I got better as crossing over from hand to hand. I am having fun here,” she said.
An honorable mention goes out to Mr. Gilroy for fueling a great concept and another positive environment for the communities’ future to enjoy in the PAL/CYO No Zone Basketball Clinic.
“We felt like we had to give back to the community and thank Frank for everything he did,” Anderson said.