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Catholic Youth Organization basketball league gives working kids a place to play

Patrick Hanlon

McChesney v Saint Patrick’s game 1/29/09 6:30PM

Coach Matt Kearney said no one should bother coming to the game because his team will probably lose by at least 40 points. Kearney’s varsity team, Saint Patrick’s of the Catholic Youth Organization league, was scheduled to play the first-ranked McChesney.

Saint Patrick’s nine players showed up to McChesney Recreation Center wearing yellow jerseys with “Saint Patrick’s” written across their chests in green. They gained a significant lead throughout the game but started to lose speed in the final minutes. Saint Pat’s won the game in the last minute, 63-61.

Even after this upset victory, Coach Kearney doesn’t focus on just wins and losses.

“We try and teach them something, not necessarily about basketball,” Kearney said.

While St. Patrick’s turned up the heat on the court against McChesney, the gym where they practice is quite cold. Kearney said the heat in the gym is “probably on enough just to keep the pipes from freezing.”

Inside, the players look like they are getting ready to play tackle football game rather than basketball. They wear winter hats, sweat pants and long sleeve shirts on the court while practicing. Yet the biggest problem for the team is coordinating everyone’s schedule.

“This year the biggest challenge is getting kids to come to practice, because I have a lot of kids that work,” Kearney said.

St. Pat’s team is a mix of kids from various local high schools. Not all these players were turned away from their high school teams; some of them just can’t make the time commitment at the high school level. But because they love the game, they find a way to play.

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