2009-04-08 / Sports & Outdoors

MTA volunteers going above & beyond

Spotlight on student volunteerism
By David Hart Irregular Staff

Volunteer basketball development coaches and Mt. Abram student athletes are (left to right) Lincoln Dyar, Sam Simpson, Jim Barker and Ethan Eisenhaur. Not pictured is Corey Tripp. (David Hart photo) Volunteer basketball development coaches and Mt. Abram student athletes are (left to right) Lincoln Dyar, Sam Simpson, Jim Barker and Ethan Eisenhaur. Not pictured is Corey Tripp. (David Hart photo) SALEM -- A new basketball development program for area middle school athletes is nearing its end with championship games scheduled tonight, April 8. With the conclusion, a group of individuals are here spotlighted for their leadership, volunteerism and community service.

Senior basketball players Sam Simpson, Ethan Eisenhaur and Corey Tripp along with juniors Jim Barker and Lincoln Dyar have made a significant difference to the program. The program was designed by a group of parents and coaches to teach the basketball skills, fundamentals and strategies in preparation for the varsity basketball program at Mt. Abram High School.

The program was designed to get an understanding of the language used in terms of terminology, understanding more sophisticated offenses and defenses, to use the top MTA players as mentor coaches and to create bonds between players from area schools before they enter high school. The program proved to be a huge success. Nearly two dozen middle school athletes formed four teams and comprised a mix of individuals from area schools.

"Taking the time to develop fundamentals, like they are doing now is a great step to take before high school ball," Simpson explained. "And, it can certainly help the transition by getting more playing time under their belts."

Simpson said anytime an athlete can get more involved and gain more playing time in the sport is a good thing. "They would be or will be more prepared for the real deal."

"It is important," Dyar said, "since most kids who come out to play for MTA don't yet have enough knowledge of the game, but I think this program was a positive turn for fixing that issue."

Dyar also said that the kids that participated gained friends and this will help build chemistry for future players coming up.

Simpson said in some way it's giving back and saying thank you to his high school community by coming out each week. "But it's mostly just an opportunity to improve the skill level of the up and comers. It's exciting to see kids get more into the sport, and develop the interest."

It also is noted by the organizers and coaches how supportive the Mt. Abram staff and athletic department were in allowing the program to succeed at MTA.

"I am very thankful for the opp's the school gave us to do this program," Dyar explained. "Without this school's help, this could never have happened."

Another key to the success was the program leadership from area resident Scott Dixon who often led drills and put together the practice plans. His experience in the game along with the other high school coaches created a balance of learning for the participants.

Simpson noted that most of the kids there just wanted to become better basketball players. "There are some that did an awesome job just soaking in everything that we had to say to them … they did listen very well."

Eisenhaur said he enjoys working with kids, in particular the ones who are serious about improving their game. He also spent considerable time working this season with the Phillips boys' team which led the league in a perfect undefeated championship run.

The high school players certainly enjoyed their added time on the court after the basketball season was over.

"I am learning from the kids as much as the kids are learning from all the coaches," Dyar explained. "It improves everyone's game because it's just a positive place to be… The extra weeks were great. More time to work and gain for next year. I just want to say it is a great time and I hope to see even more kids in the following years."

Barker made it every week even when he should have been home sick in bed. He, like the others, put 110 percent into the new program to help the kids and help MTA out down the road.

"Thanks to all the kids that came out," Simpson said. "I enjoyed working with them all; it was a lot of fun."

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