By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
Breandan Gibbons remembers being in sixth grade and going to Dunkirk High School to watch the Marauders' basketball team compete.
Basketball is ‘fun’damentals
"I thought those were the really cool guys and I wanted to be like them," he said.
Now Gibbons is one of "them" as he is a senior forward for the Marauders.
Saturday at Dunkirk Middle School, Gibbons and two of his teammates - Kevin Viscciannie and Kevin Holmes - were lending a helping hand to youths in grades 3-8 as the Dunkirk Recreation Department and the Dunkirk City School District have teamed up to offer a Saturday morning basketball program.
participants in grades 6-8 pose for a photo after taking part in a youth basketball program at Dunkirk Middle School on Saturday. Below, Dunkirk Marauder players, Kevin Viscciannie, left, and Kevin Holmes, right, guard a participant during a dribbling drill. The event is sponsored by the Dunkirk Recreation?Department.
"I thought it would be pretty nice to come down with the kids," Gibbons said. "It shows we care. We like to give back to the community."
It is the first youth basketball program for Dunkirk in recent memory and one of the key draws is the fact it is free. The program, which is made possible thanks to a grant through the city of Dunkirk, will be held at the Dunkirk Middle School gymnasium for the next four Saturdays and it is not too late to sign up. The session for students in grades 3-5 will run from 10-11 a.m. while the session for students in grades 6-8 will run from 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
"It's a good program for the kids," youth basketball instructor Joe DePasquale said. "We go through drills - dribbling, layups and 3-on-3 drills. This is for basics for anyone who wants to start learning how to play basketball. It's a good opportunity for the kids to get their skills ready for the next level. A lot of these kids will be going to middle school soon and when they get there, they need to have the basics down to play."
Dunkirk varsity coach Jerome Moss, in his second year of coaching the Marauders, hopes it is the beginning of a basketball program which will offer leagues and competitive play.
"We want to try and get kids to play earlier and learn some of the fundamentals," Moss said. "We are starting from scratch. We are starting with this and see where it goes. Hopefully it catches on. We will continue to do more things with them."
Moss noted his team has been actively involved with the community the past two years as his team invites Dunkirk's middle school teams to practice once a year.
"We mix those players in with some high school players and run drills with them," Moss said. "It lets them see what drills we do and how fast the high school kids move."
Moss also noted his team will attend some seventh and eighth grade games this season to support the younger players, just like the younger players go to high school games and support the Marauders.
Fourteen participants were present for the first session Saturday while nine showed up for the second session.
"If we could get those numbers up, that would be nice," DePasquale concluded.
To register, call the Dunkirk Recreation Department at 366-9885, or prior to the class at the Dunkirk Middle School.
Again, there is no cost for the program.