The Wellesley High School girls’ varsity basketball team packs a lot of hoop into every weekend during its season. Games on most Friday nights, a couple hours of practice on Saturday morning, and then a few hours of coaching 2nd grade Mini-Raiders on Saturday afternoon.
“It is a very long day for them and they maintain unbelievable stamina and spirit,” says Wellesley High girls’ basketball coach Glen Magpiong. “They make the kids feel special and fill the room with great energy.”
I swung by the lower gym at Wellesley Middle School recently to catch a few minutes of the coaching action during the Wellesley Youth Basketball program. The nearly 2 dozen elementary school girls were winding down their session, but still looked full of pep. One girl tossed up a lefty layup, and from the reaction of the high school player coaching her, I got the impression that kid wasn’t a natural born lefty.
Another young player had a tight grip on the ball when Magpiong tried to surprise her and knock it out of her hands. “You were ready for me, I thought I’d get you,” he joked.
Parents sat around the edges of the court, content to let the older girls teach their kids the ropes.
“I really feel like the sooner we can introduce the fundamentals of the game to the kids, the better prepared they will be if the pursue basketball in future years. We do try to do it in a fun yet structured environment,” says Magpiong, noting the program has been running for several years.
Wellesley Youth Basketball’s Nancy Williamson told me she gets a bit teary watching the older girls teach the younger girls, just as they were taught by older girls not that long ago.
Anna Glashow, one of the Raiders’ captains this season, is a regular at the Mini-Raiders sessions. Coaching the kids has motivated the high school Raiders throughout the season, she says.
“A typical session includes practicing layups (from the block and full court), dribbling relays, dribble knockout, 1v1’s, and ‘last second’ shots. We also work on jump-stopping and faking shots and passes,” she says. “A lot of the drills and games we have incorporated into our own practices this season and they’re all tons of fun.”
Many of the young girls show up to cheer on the Raiders at their games, too.
Glashow says one of her favorite memories from this season was teaming up with all of the kids to eliminate teammate Kaelagh Malloy from a game of dribble knockout. “It was fun to watch the kids get competitive with the players and exemplified the bonds we had formed throughout the season,” she says.
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While the girls’ basketball team’s effort is outstanding, it should be noted that many Wellesley High student-athletes (and non-athletes, for that matter) are generous with their time. Other WHS teams support programs such as the Unified Track & Field Team, and host clinics for sports such as tennis and soccer.
Wellesley High Athletic Director John Brown says “We have some great student-athletes who do lots of volunteer work. We do encourage this through the coaches.”
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