The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Steve and Chrissy Finch both played basketball at Clay High School.

Chrissy graduated in 1990 and her husband got his diploma a year later.

Their son, Nolan, 7, is a second-grader and he already has aspirations of becoming a basketball player for the Eagles. Nolan, along with more than 100 other boys in grades 2-6, have already gotten a first-hand look inside the Clay program.

Varsity boys coach Joe Guerrero and assistant coaches Rob Belegrin, Rod Achter and Chris Oberdick, as well as current varsity and junior varsity players, held a biddy basketball program for the first time in several years.

"We couldn't do it before because of the gym space," Guerrero said, "but with the new elementary schools there is more gym space available. Also with the budget cut of cutting one of our freshman teams, that freed up more time and we have our biddy program."

The program was held every Tuesday and Thursday night at Clay and Wynn Elementary schools.
Guerrero said the high school players, who participated in instructing and refereeing the youths, had a blast with the younger players.

"They've done phenomenal working with the kids," Guerrero said. "We teach the kids skills. It's worked out greater than any of my expectations. We hope to increase the number of kids next year. We've thought about it every year I've been at Clay (15 years), but we have never been able to do it because of gym space."

The cost of participating in the biddy program, which ran from the first week of December through Jan. 29, was $15.

"Nolan has been playing basketball at the YMCA since he was 3," Steve Finch said. "He really enjoys it. What he likes about it is he's hearing somebody else teach him other than myself or my wife. Hearing it from coach Guerrero or coach Belegrin and the high school kids reinforces what we're trying to teach him. The sooner they can learn the basics, the better."

Finch said he appreciates the fact that the high school kids were willing to spend time with the youngsters.

"They're going to school and working through their practices and staying afterwards to work with kids in the community," Finch said. "They're doing it with a smile on their face and they interact with the kids real well."

Nolan Finch said he hopes the drills he is learning now will pay off in the future.
"When I'm older, I'll be better," he said. "It will be more fun and I will be winning more. I like the pick-and-roll (drill). I like it when you dribble and do a layup. It's more fun to do it with the other kids."

Each daily clinic lasted an hour, from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The youths were taught rebounding, shooting, defense, pivoting and passing. Each player participated in two games on Sundays. The games were two 12-minute halves with a running clock.
Clay senior guard Matt Swaim said teaching the youngsters was "real fun."
"Basically the point of the program is to teach kids at a young age and getting them playing earlier, so when they get to high school they have more experience," he said. "There was definitely team bonding, being there an hour after practice. We got to refresh our fundamental skills. We're teaching them pretty basic stuff we can also use. It's a good feeling.

"Just to know we're doing something good is rewarding. It's our community and this is kind of what we're doing for the community."

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