Brandon Brown | Portsmouth Herald
YORK, Maine – The ability to hand over a check for more than $7,000 makes a canceled middle school basketball season sting a little bit less.
When the York Middle School eighth grade girls basketball team found out there would not be a season this year due to COVID-19 it came up with an unique way to shift its energy into something greater than basketball.
Head coach Randy Kinzly tends to ask the team different questions for the girls to think about.
One day the particular question offered by Kinzly was, “if you could do something for the community, what would you do?” The team brainstormed the idea of doing a shoot-a-thon to raise money, then donate the proceeds to those in need of assistance.
“This was (the team’s) idea,” Kinzly said. “They followed through on everything. They organized it and put it all together.”
The team did not set a monetary goal. The players just knew they wanted to help the community — the total raised was $7,329.35.
The girls presented a check to York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC) representative Brad Bohon, and then got a phone call from YCCAC executive director Barbara Crider, who told the team how much it was helping the community.
“We have received so many calls from people in the area who really need help,” Crider said. “The pandemic has made it so hard for families. So many people lost their jobs and we’ve just got an extraordinary amount of requests for help.
"We’re hearing from a lot of people who are just getting by," Crider continued. "But now they can’t get by without some help from their neighbors. So, what (this) team has done is fantastic. I just wanted to call and thank (the girls) for an amazing and wonderful thing they have done. The amount is just extraordinary.”
What's more, Kinzly works for Nike, which is going to donate an additional $1,200, making a grand total of $8,529.25.
“I’m just really proud of these girls,” said Kinzly. “What they’re doing is setting the tone, for not just their age group, but people all around them. Whether it’s older, younger, same age, I think it really sets the tone for a great opportunity for things to get better.”
Lindsay Rivers, a member of the team, originally thought they would raise less than a $1,000.
“We felt like shooting for $2,000 was a lot," Rivers said. "And then to come out at the end with $7,000, it was like wow, if we do this every year, we’re going to really help.”
Ava Fontaine described just how surprising the amount was.
“My dad was like, ‘how much did you all raise?'" Fontaine said. "I started off with ‘7’, he was like, ‘oh 700 dollars?’ I was like, 'no, $7,000.' He was really astonished on how much we actually raised.”
“I knew we would raise a lot,” said Emma Joyce. “But, I think we were all surprised about how much we ended up raising.”
Cate Bridge was glad for the impact this money will bring to those in need in the community.
“I was really excited because I knew how much of an impact that would make,” she said. “Even if it was just a couple hundred (dollars), that would still make a large impact. But, this amount of money can change people’s lives.”
Harper Dragon was amazed how much she and her teammates were able to raise.
“I thought about how much a little can impact a person’s life," Dragon said. "But having this amount and giving so much more help to people who need it, especially in this time of need is really, really amazing.”
The YCCAC has an outreach program, with six social workers spread out across the county.
“When people encounter a neighbor in need, they will tell them to call us, and we work with them to meet their basic needs," Crider said.
The team completed the official “shoot-a-thon” on March 3. Donations could have been made on a per shot basis or just a flat amount.
“I had a good feeling inside of me,” Alexis Osterhaus said. “I felt like I definitely helped a lot of people. I want to give a shout out to the York teachers; they were my donators.”
The support the team has received has been nothing short of incredible.
“The support has been really great throughout the community,” Rivers said. “And we’re all just really happy that in a difficult time, we’re able to make a difference.”
“I know just through my family members, they spread (the word) out to their friends and family,” Dragon said. “My mom spread it out to her clients and her friends. Some of them actually texted me personally and said that it was very nice what we were doing. My family members said they were super proud of me and my team.”
Along with the shoot-a-thon, the team hosted a 2-on-2 tournament to raise money for racial injustice.
“With everything that’s been going on recently, I think it really shows a lot of support,” said Dragon. “It truly comes from our hearts that we care, and we want to help.”
Other members of the team include Chloe Deluca, CJ Rubin, Nya Avery and Maddie Fitzgerald.
Kinzly and the team wants to make this an annual event.
“We hope that next year, even though things should be better, we hope to keep this going for a really long time,” Rivers said. “People are always struggling, and the need might be higher this year, but we always want to help.”