Volume 17 • Issue 36 • Jan. 28 — February 3, 2005


I.S. 89 Cougars work on their games at midseason break

Downtown Express photos by Elisabeth Robert
Victor Smith dribbles up the court during practice with the I.S. 89 Cougars this week.

By Zachary Roy

The 2005 season is underway for the I.S. 89 Cougars’ boys and girls basketball teams, which are part of the after school program run by the nonprofit organization, Manhattan Youth.

The two teams share gym time at the Downtown school on Warren St., where they practice and play games against other schools on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Midway through the season, the boys have posted a 4-1 record, while the girls are 2-3.
Theseus Roche, Manhattan Youth’s after-school director, said they are trying to accomplish more than just a winning record.

“We take kids who respond well to sports, and we try to create an educational environment on the court,” Roche said. “We make them look at basketball as a game of strategy and geometry, so that there’s a strong element of mental growth.”

Basketball is the most popular of the many after-school activities that Manhattan Youth offers at I.S. 89. The boys’ and the girls’ teams are each open to the school’s sixth- through eighth-grade students, but due to high interest on the boys’ side, only 15 seventh- and eighth-graders made the cut – about half the number of students who tried out.

The girls’ team’s head coach, Cecelia Dobbs, says the program plays an important role, because of the lack of organized sports for children in New York City before the get to high school.

“There’s the team-building element, but it’s also important to expose the girls to organized sports, so they can work on their skills and get real game experience,” Dobbs said.

Because I.S. 89 is one of the few local middle schools with a full gym, so far all of the girls’ games and most of the boys’ games have been at home. Roche, and the coaches, Blake Hepburn and Dobbs, hope to schedule at least five more games for each team before the end of February.

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