Wynne makes a slam dunk with school senior project

Leroy Wynne knows the value of volunteering and has experienced its rewards on the hardwood.

Throughout October and into November, Wynne helped coach fourth and fifth graders in basketball, giving them a social outlet and a way to learn teamwork. The coaching was his high school senior project and a natural fit for the student-athlete.

Wynne and a few other volunteer coaches, worked with 20 children to teach them the fundamentals of basketball, instill a love of the game, build teamwork and work on conflict resolution, said Kate Thomas, director of the parks and recreation department, which oversees the program.

"(Leroy is) pretty laid back, especially in communication with adults," Thomas said. "But when he's working with kids, he has this way of holding firm boundaries with kids while maintaining a rapport and keeping it fun."

It's the second year that Wynne, 17, has volunteered to be a coach with the program, Thomas said, so when he expressed interest in doing it this year, it was "a no-brainer."

Even though he'd coached the year before and is on the high school basketball team, Wynne said coaching kids comes with its own challenges.

"It was pretty tough because fourth and fifth graders don't have much of an attention span," he said. "I had a lot of fun with it though, especially at the games (when they played each other)."

The program ran twice a week for an hour each time. One hour was meant for practice and one was meant for scrimmaging, but both typically became practices, Wynne said. He was joined on the court by fellow coaches Adrienne Mclaughlin and Jason Clark.

Clark was Wynne's coach at one time in middle and elementary schools. "He's pretty good with all that stuff. He's had some experience," Wynne said.

As far as Clark is concerned, he was happy to see his former student come full circle.

"It was great to see (Wynne) take charge of practice and in games," Clark said. "He did very well interacting with the kids, explaining drills and coordinating and, most importantly, making it fun during practice and games."

Both Clark and Thomas emphasized the need for volunteers, particularly younger volunteers, to continue to make such programs work.

"It's great to see the younger generation step up and help with Wrangell's youth, especially in a small community where it's harder to get volunteers," Clark said. "There can't be a program without volunteers."

Historically, Thomas said, the basketball program used to be more robust, with tryouts, practicing on designated teams for eight weeks, then participating in local competitions, and finally traveling to Petersburg to play against kids in that community's youth basketball program.

"That was impacted largely in the era of COVID," Thomas said. "We dialed down the skills to be fundamental basics. We had limited opportunities for competition. This year was kind of a rebuild year where we were striving for a league-style program."

Originally, plans were made to have the kids compete against Petersburg players again, but those fell through. Thomas hopes to revive the program to make it what it was before the pandemic. Though limited, she believes the volunteers make it as engaging as possible.

"Leroy has a way of working with kids and (they) are drawn to work with him," she said. "They like to know where the boundaries are and where they can push them. Leroy knows how to draw those boundaries."

Outside of volunteering his time, Wynne works as a lifeguard at the community pool, is a swimming instructor and a youth program facilitator. Once finished with his senior year, he plans to invest his energy in something other than school.

"I want to get into business and trading stocks on the market," he said. He's been dabbling a little in the market but wants to get more deeply entrenched. "A few years ago, I saw it on the internet a bunch because the market was crashing. I wanted to see what it was about."

It's a career that appeals to Wynne because of the income potential and because it would allow him to make his office anywhere he chooses. "I could do it from my bed all the way down to a beach in the Bahamas, wherever. I just need to have a laptop."

He's also interested in real estate as a potential career.

Though Wynne will miss seeing his friends in high school every day, he won't miss the homework or tests, except for one class. "I have economics next semester, which I'm really excited to take."


Reader Comments(0)