Women’s team gives back through basketball clinic

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The Winters High School women’s varsity basketball team is hosting a basketball clinic on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Beyond the basketball aspect, it’s a way that head coach Jeff Christian is teaching his squad the benefits of giving back to one’s community.

Designed for girls in grades four through eigh, the basketball clinic takes place at the WHS Young Gymnasium – and with a full roster of 40 attendees – will bolster these young ballplayers’ understanding of the game and its fundamentals.

Moreover, the experience of teaching will add to the team’s chemistry and selflessness.

“I’ve been coaching forever and doing these camps and clinics, from a coach’s point of view, is the best way to empower your players. We wanted to put this on for the players to feel how good it is to give back to the community,” said Christian. “I had the initial thought to do this, but it’s been a collaborative effort. Jill Aguiar took the lead on the administrative side getting fliers together, reaching out to the PE teachers and principals and whatnot, but the girls will be doing all the heavy lifting and I’ll be there to help with my staff.”

With an abundance of coaching experience on Christian’s resume, right next to it is 29 years of being a nurse. These experiences weave into an overall coaching philosophy that promotes mental and emotional wellness. This, of course, is Christian’s way of helping his athletes take on any COVID-related calamity.

“COVID has been presenting challenges for all people, but for young people like the girls coming to the clinic – say a 10-year-old that’s in the fifth grade – that’s already a good portion of her life she’s had to deal with COVID stuff,” Christian said explaining the clinic’s value. “So, I try to help by guiding them to learn about mindfulness, meditation, exercise and we’ll be doing all this in the short amount of time we have for the clinic.”

Christian doesn’t just want to help his athletes out with pandemic challenges, but the standard challenges of being a teenager. Coping with these teenaged stressors is why the coach starts every practice with what he likes to call “P.B.S.”

“It means ‘Pause, Breath and Smile.’ Since we’re in a small community, the girls are getting pulled in so many directions. From my perspective as a coach, it’s a good and bad thing,” Christian explained. “It’s good because girls are getting exposure to so many different things like other sports, robotics, stats and all these other things. But it’s also bad because it all comes at the expense of their mental well-being. Part of my experience being a nurse is that we haven’t helped them learn how to slow down, and I use basketball to help teach about life.”

It’s also coach Christian’s hope that the team will broaden their view on life outside the court. This view becomes all the clearer – funnily enough – when one tries to see things from the perspective of others.

“I want my girls to see through the eyes of these fourth and eighth graders; the excitement and nervousness and realize that was them a few years ago and how much they’ve grown since,” said Christian. “Whenever you can help young people see that and give back to the community, you can start to change the world one interaction at a time. That’s what we’re shooting for with this clinic, and we happen to use basketball to capture some of this life magic.”

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