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Free basketball clinics in Sharpsburg attract a crowd

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Greg Domian teaches young players the skills they need on and off the basketball court at the Linden Gym in Shapsburg every Thursday evening.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Daniel Allen, right, goes one on one with Sincere Plummer, left, during Thursday night basketball clinic at the Linden Gym in Sharpsburg.

Each Thursday night, 20 to 25 local children run basketball drills to improve their game at Linden Gym in Sharpsburg.

The basketball clinics started in early May.

Greg Domian, a Sharpsburg councilman and former basketball coach at North Catholic High School, said most of the participants are in fifth through 11th grades.

When they first arrived, many didn't expect there would be structure to the free program.

“They thought it was just going to be an open gym where they run around and do whatever they wanted to do,” Domian said.

Each week, though, the group has picked up new skills and seen improvements.

Domian said the program also keeps children off the streets and gives them a structured place to go each week.

Virgil Luster, a ninth-grade student, said he wants to make the Fox Chapel Area High School basketball team next year. His favorite part of the clinics has been learning new skills such as ball handling.

“It's a coach thing. It teaches you stuff,” Luster said.

Domian coaches along with Rich Lane, a local coach, and fellow councilman Matthew Rudzki. The program is open to players throughout the area.

Most participants previously played together on the borough's basketball courts near Kennedy Park.

Fox Chapel Area fifth-grader Tyler Popovich and seventh-grader Ethan Self both heard about the program from other children at Kennedy Park in Sharpsburg.

“I decided since everyone was doing it, so why not try it out,” Self said.

Steve Allen of Blawnox, whose son David Allen plays at the gym, said it was a good way to keep children out of trouble. He hopes to see more programs like this in the area.

“More community stuff would be great. It doesn't have to be sports,” Allen said.

Domian plans to keep the clinics going at the gym, which the borough owns, even as baseball season begins to pick up.

“We're going to keep it going until I come down here some Thursday and there's nobody here,” Domian said.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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