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Tag Archives: Boys & Girls Club of Manchester

October 27: Boys and Girls Club of Manchester

Each time I step into the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, I get a brand new appreciation for Things That Are Good.

The latest flock of rebounders was a mostly junior-sized version: Juan Trinidad, Colin Hines, Daniel Infante, Kevin Avery, Richard Shout, Kai Crawford,Griffin McDonough, Ding Niyang, Mason Grimard, Gunnar Ouellette,
Nicole Henry, Natalee Henry, Alexis Glaude, Carlos Marsach, Javen Morse, Jaylen Leroy, Dylan Feliciano and
Antonio Feliciano.

And it was once again orchestrated by Natalie Jutras, the B&G Club Athletic Director who — it is obvious in only an hour’s worth of time as a witness — runs the gym with the perfectly deft combination of iron-fisted authority and motherly love.

It’s an amazing place, and I’m a lucky guy to have been invited.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit www.hoopsforheroes.com or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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March 17: “Buckets” and Dennis

I went to the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester expecting to meet an amazing dude. Instead, I met two.

Ball-spinning, 35-foot-shot-draining, trick-making, awe-inspiring, shiny-red-warmup-wearing, Harlem Globetrotter-representing Anthony “Buckets” Blakes was the featured attraction during my brief visit to the club on March 17 — correct, that is St. Patty’s Day. Mr. Blakes, a Phoenix resident and No. 15 on your Globetrotters roster, was in town doing advanced promotions for the March 19 game at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, and one of his stops was to help the Hoops For Heroes cause with a little rebounding.

The Boys & Girls Club was all but empty when I arrived, as much of the staff was off site at a conference for the day, but there to greet me was club program director Dennis Stone, a guy who’s been doing his thing at the club for 30 years. That’s right, 30 years.

And whereas Buckets helps to inspire kids by the hundreds from his daily place on the hardwood, Dennis’s path is considerably more arduous. While the two of us waited, I asked him about, you know, kids today … as compared to kids throughout the three decades he’s been working with them. His answer didn’t surprise me, and it won’t surprise you. It’s tougher. They’ve got more excuses. They are less likely to be disciplined at home, so it’s difficult to hold them accountable outside of the home. Their parents are more likely to blame an authority figure than the child.

This is not unique to the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, of course. And it’s not unique to urban areas. There is a gaping and growing responsibility gap everywhere … in less affluent neighborhoods, in more affluent neighborhoods, and in all places in between. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that 30 or so years ago, if my behavior — or that of anyone else in my elementary or middle or high school — prompted a call home from the principal, we the troublemakers were in serious trouble at home. Today? There’s a good chance there’s going to be a finger pointed back at the school.

“What did you do to my kid?”

Didn’t expect to be on a soap box. Sorry about that.

Anyway, Dennis Stone recognizes that things are different. Yes, harder.

“So how do you not just give up?” I asked him.

“I just try to help one kid a day,” he said.

And then Buckets Blakes arrived.

Wow, I loved that warmup gear. Wow, I loved those sparkling new Reeboks. And most of all, Wow, I LOVED that basketball. Kinda like my old red, white and blue ABA Spalding, the one we started with, except not quite as, well, bald and brown. See photo above. I think you can tell which one is which.

We didn’t have much time, so we got rolling, with Buckets under the bucket and Dennis to my right. About 21 minutes later, we had our 500 in the books, and Buckets had counted the misses. There were 27 of them, for a solid shooting percentage of 94.9.

“You wanna go hustle in Phoenix?” he said.

We then got a little show …

… and before we left, Buckets was gracious enough to give Dennis his cell phone number and told him to call on the morning of game day, so that Buckets could know whether or not to leave tickets, and how many, at the will-call window.

He’s the real deal, Buckets Blakes.

And one kid at a time, Dennis Stone is, too.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit www.hoopsforheroes.com or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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