Drew Schifino was one of the top basketball players to come out of the WPIAL. Schifino didn’t have the smoothest ride during his playing career, which has led him to share his experiences with young players so they can learn from his experiences.
Schifino, who trains basketball players during his free time, is now looking to start up an Athlete Mentor Program, where he will provide guidance to local athletes as they navigate through different life experiences, which include education and self-esteem issues.
The program, which will include seminars, will occur during the summer months of June, July and August.
“I played high Division I. I played local basketball. I played basketball professionally in eight different countries. I look around the area and I feel like Penn Hills needs a guy that kids can relate to to mentor the young guys in the area,” Schifino said.
“When I was coaching the WPIAL, I was more a mentor-type coach instead of the Xs and Os. I would help mentor the guys, and I feel like it was a gift I could give others.”
Schifino, who graduated from Penn Hills in 2001, is the leading scorer in Indians’ history with 2,320 career points. He moved on to play at West Virginia, where he averaged 20.1 points his sophomore season.
However, Schifino’s career at WVU came to a close after a dustup with then-coach John Beilein during his junior season.
After finishing his career at Cal (Pa.), Schifino played eight seasons professionally overseas. Schifino came back home and coached at Waynesburg in 2013 and Steel Valley in 2014 with a record of 20-24.
Schifino believes his ability to connect to kids is a positive in making the message resonant with the youth. Schifino understands young players won’t reach out for help if they don’t believe they can connect, even though the message would be coming from someone who isn’t their legal guardian.
The main objective for the program will stress the understanding playing NCAA Division I or Division II in sports isn’t the end all be all. Schifino wants to make sure young players understand they should do what they love and take the necessary steps toward their passion.
“You want to mentor guys and build for their future,” Schifino said. “If they don’t have the grades, they can’t get a Division I or Division II scholarship, it’s OK to pick up a trade instead of going to college. A lot of people think if you don’t go to college it’s the end of the world. It’s not about sports. It’s about life and building for the future.”
Schifino believes if he’s able to mentor at least one athlete, that would be considered as a success. Schifino has visions of continuing the program year round where he would set up times for players to meet local professional athletes as a tool to motivate them to achieve their goals.
“Life is a roller coaster. You’re going to have your ups and downs. In life, you just have to stay positive. If something goes bad, you have to stay positive,” Schifino said.
For those interested in the mentor program or personal basketball training, Schifino can be contacted at [email protected] Schifino is willing to meet with any basketball player during the time that works for the client.
“I’m always about the youth and keeping them out of trouble,” Schifino said.