On Saturday, March 16th, Chelsea’s eighth grade boys’ basketball team accomplished a great feat; eleven of our city’s student athletes won the Shamrock Tournament championship game. This win is only the beginning of a series of victories that I envision for our Chelsea youth.
From day one of practice, my message to all of our youth has been to become a student first, then an athlete. This basketball program is being built on the foundation of academic excellence, discipline, sportsmanship, dedication, and persistence. Once our athletes embody these values, they will experience success both on the basketball court and in our classrooms. Chelsea’s youth is full of potential, both academically and athletically. Volunteers, mentors, and adults in Chelsea can help our children manifest their potential by lending a guiding hand and fostering a strong sense of values.
As a former Chelsea High School student athlete, a paraprofessional in a Chelsea Elementary School, and as a coach, my goal is to change the culture in our city for our youth. From personal experience, I have learned that we can reach our young community through sports, for me, through basketball. I want to give them hope, something to look forward to, and something to be excited about from an early age. I believe that by creating a strong sense of community, loyalty, persistence, and hope on the court at a young age, our student athletes will embody this behavior off the court. For my dream for our youth to come true, we need community support. We need all of the members of the Chelsea community, regardless of age, to believe and support the mission together. Our young student athletes need more parents and more mentors to be on board and on the same page. Having open communication between parents, mentors, and children is the key. Our children, parents, and mentors in the community need to know and feel comfortable approaching one another about academic, athletic, and life concerns. Each child needs a team of adults behind them; supporting and pushing them down the path to success. As a community, we can become an unstoppable force on the court, in the classrooms, and on the streets, if we pave a successful, focused, righteous path for our youth.
Community members that are invested in creating a successful future for Chelsea have realized that we need to dedicate time to and effort into our youths’ lives. At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. We need to keep our local talent at home in order to build something great for the City of Chelsea, our public schools, and our students. Throughout my years spent in Chelsea, I have noticed a lot of students leaving the Chelsea Public Schools once they reach middle school or high school. I don’t want parents to be nervous or worried about sending their kids through Chelsea Public Schools. We have great leaders in the Chelsea Public School Department that are doing their best everyday to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. We have great teachers who understand what it takes for our youth to become academically and socially successful. Principals, such as Joe Mullaney at the Chelsea Public High School, Andy O’Brien at the Eugene Wright Middle School, and Adele Lubarsky at the Edgar F. Hooks Elementary School, all put in the time and the hard work that it takes to make sure all our kids are able to exceed their potential in academics. I am confident in all of Chelsea’s educators and staff and I urge all members of the community to feel likewise.
Over the past month, our basketball program has experienced great success because the children are listening, learning, and growing as student athletes. Although this travelling basketball team was only fastened together one month ago, I am already very impressed with the successes we have experienced and with the direction we are heading towards. In both of the tournaments we participated in we competed with highly skilled teams from around the State of Massachusetts. Recently, we placed in third at the Reggie Lewis Tournament in Boston, and most recently we won the Shamrock Tournament in Billerica. The excitement and enthusiasm generated from the players and parents throughout the tournaments was more than enough to confirm a victory for Chelsea. As their coach and mentor, I was really proud of them and without their dedication and hard work both on the court and in the classroom we wouldn’t be able to accomplish this as a team and community. We already have been invited back to play in those tournaments next year and the tournament hosts requested we bring in more teams to compete.
Within the next year my goal is to add in a fifth grade, sixth grade, and a seventh grade team to go along with the existing eighth grade team. I would like to establish a traveling team that will play in the North Shore League to compete against other traveling teams in the greater Boston area. I am also going to develop and create the Greater Boston Basketball Club AAU teams for our youth, the children who are putting in the hard work need to be recognized for things other than all the negatives they read or see on the newspapers. For all the negatives there are way more positives. As a community we tend to tune in and focus on the negatives. This can and needs to change. As their coach and mentor, I will have high expectations for all the children who come on board. The program participants will be molded into community leaders and their behavior and dedication will serve as a beacon for their classmates and fellow athletes. A leader always leads by example, and as they grow they can mentor all the young kids in Chelsea. We will give every child a chance to make all teams by having open tryouts. Every child will get a chance to compete. I don’t want to turn away any kid who has potential and is willing to put in the effort. If I can get more help and people on board, I will be able to add B teams so every kid who doesn’t make the A team can still be part of the program. These programs will be year-round and will keep them busy and on the right path. Michelle Lopez does a great job running the CYBL program and I want to build on to that. We can have both CYBL and traveling teams.
Our kids need to experience the competition outside of Chelsea and beyond. As long as they are putting as much effort in education and discipline as they are on the playing field, I will do everything I can in my power to get them all the resources they need to become successful. We can give them all the tools in the world by supporting them as a community. I just need them to use the tools to help them get somewhere in life and through college. I grew up in Chelsea so it was my goal to come back and be involved as a mentor to our youth once I graduated from the University of New Hampshire. Three years ago, I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to be a volunteer assistant for Jay Siegal, the varsity basketball coach at Chelsea High School, and that gave me good insight on what needed to be done in our community. I just want to do more and what I can to help the Chelsea youth to stay on track. I want all my teams and kids to be recognized not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Rome wasn’t built overnight, so it’s going to take one step at a time but I like the direction we are heading in. If we unite as a community, we can accomplish these goals and the children of Chelsea will experience success academically and athletically.
Paraprofessional- Edgar F. Hooks School
Varsity Assistant Basketball Coach- Chelsea High School