Homestead native Batch's foundation crowns champs on the court, in life
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Monday, July 22, 2013, 3:56 a.m.
Project CHUCK, an annual summer basketball program sponsored by the Best of the Batch Foundation, crowned its champions Saturday at the Charlie Batch Sixteenth Avenue Playground in Homestead.
Six games — two for the girls, four for the boys — capped eight weeks of competition.
The champions received a trophy and a team picture with Batch, the Steelers quarterback who has used his good fortune to benefit youth in his native Homestead.
All participants in the championship round received medals.
“It's exciting,” Batch said. “I see the smiles on the kids' and parents' faces. This is what it's about. They want to play for the championship throughout the summer. At the same time it's almost bittersweet because this is the end.”
More than 350 Western Pennsylvania kids ages 7 through 18 played for 32 teams during the season.
Project CHUCK — which stands for Continuously Helping Uplift Community Kids — is much more than just a basketball program. It focuses on building discipline, self-confidence, team skills, sportsmanship, and has a strong educational element.
“We incorporate our summer reading program into this program,” Batch said. “Each kid who participates must read a book, and attend four mandatory study sessions throughout the summer. (Sessions) are one hour before they play their game.”
Program administrators challenge the young players' comprehension with questions about the material.
“We're just making sure that we keep it fun and interactive. It keeps them paying attention to a book through the summer,” Batch said. “This is our way of using sports to draw the kids in, but at the same time we're able to implement any educational component that we choose.”
Project CHUCK has had a lot of positive results in its 12 years.
“The crime rate is down and the grades are up,” Batch said. “Each kid who participates in this program needs a 2.2 (GPA) to play. We're making sure that we hold them accountable. You have to earn the right to play in the basketball league. We want to make sure that we keep all the parents involved and participating so that everyone knows exactly where their kids are.”
The second girls championship game of the afternoon was dominated by Tamarrow Thomas, 14, of Homestead; Kayiera Sirmons, 12, of Homewood; and Taylor Hall, 15, of Wilkinsburg. They led their team to a 27-1 victory.
“I met some good people here,” said Tamarrow, who participated for the first time this year. “There's nothing else for me to do in the summer and I like basketball. We have good coaches.”
Kayiera and Taylor, in their fifth and second years, respectivly, with Project CHUCK, echoed their teammate's sentiments.
“I've improved on my skills in shooting and passing.” she said, “I've had great coaches and my teammates are very nice,”
“It was a good experience,” Taylor said. “I learned how to be a leader and play as a team, not just by myself. I've been playing basketball since I was in the fourth-grade and my coach works with my mom. She thought it would be a good idea that I play basketball. I'll be sure to come back next year.”
Jason J. Schmidt of McKeesport coached his son Jason F. Schmidt, 13, and daughter Brianna Schmidt, 8, in the family's second year in the program.
Their teams did not make it to the championships, but they said they enjoyed playing and learning.
“We heard it through word-of-mouth, and I wanted to involve them with more than just people in McKeesport,” Jason J. Schmidt said. “It's rewarding because you get to see them get better and interact with different kids from different school districts.
“This program is very good because they include the study halls. They really emphasis education and that's a very good thing.
“I've heard stories of how they're finding some kids who can't read at 8 and 9 years old and they're able to help them out through these mandatory study halls.”
Best of the Batch is sponsored by Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Eat'n Park, UPMC Health Plan, Dick's Sporting Goods, Costco, Dunkin Donuts, State Farm and GNC.
Project CHUCK is one of the foundation's many programs. It is sending 16 student athletes to the Junior Olympics in Greensburg, N.C. on Tuesday through its Next Level Athletics track program.
More information about the foundation is available online at www.batchfoundation.org.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 40 McKeesport kids to go to summer camp for free
- Elizabeth businesses expand despite traffic woes, road issues
- Gubernatorial candidate Wolf touches base with McKeesport voters
- Duquesne man dies in crash
- McKeesport history center highlights women’s roles in Civil War
- McKeesport aerobic fundraiser for cystic fibrosis challenges attendees
- Elizabeth resident charged in fuel theft
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- Family, McKeesport community grieves for girl, 14, killed by truck
- East Allegheny board hires health care consultant
- CMU prof urges students to embrace evolution in speech at Elizabeth Forward