, Newburyport, MA


March 12, 2014

Helping out with hoops

Free youth basketball mentoring program continues to grow


“I realized how much it helped me through learning how to be professional, talk to adults, come up with a lesson plan, execute it for 45 minutes and be professional around kids,” Petty said. “Not only does it do all those good things but it teaches you about the game.”

Somewhere along the line, Welch and Petty realized their efforts could help more than just local players too. Though they don’t charge for their services, they do accept donations, and last summer they decided to partner with PeacePlayers International and use some of that money to help sponsor youth basketball players in South Africa.

Their goal is to sponsor 25 children in the country, and after raising enough to cover six children last year, they hope to meet their goal this coming summer. The only problem is that with their impending graduation from college, they may not have the time to coach all summer anymore if they end up getting jobs.

In order to maintain the growth of the program, and also to help give older players a chance to benefit, they reached out to Newburyport High School coach Tom L’Italien and asked if they could recruit some of his players to be coaches. L’Italien let the pair give a presentation to his team following practice, and seniors Drew Bourdeau, Caleb Stott and junior Jake Berger signed on to coach for the summer.

“After one of our basketball practices, they came up and told us about the opportunity,” Bourdeau said. “I really wanted to give back to the community because it’s done so much for me, so I applied and luckily they gave me the job.”

Bourdeau has previous experience coaching at L’Italien’s basketball camp, as do many other players on the varsity team, and he said he and the rest of the team was very impressed by what Welch and Petty have done over the past few years and is excited to be a part of it.

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