Every high school athlete wants to bring home a trophy at some point but the girls who play basketball at Macomb Dakota, are also pretty focused on the life lessons they’re going to take away from this very unique program.
“I think it’s very important. It helps us realize how grateful we are to be in this position and to give back to our community and help out is a great opportunity," says senior shooting guard Emily Basila.
She spent a morning this month volunteering at Glen H Peters: a school that teaches children with various cognitive impairments. It’s something all of her teammates will do this season.
"We get to go and help and play with them. Last year we got to show them how to play basketball. We did a basketball camp with them, and they were so excited," explains senior shooting guard Tara Bieniewicz.
Coach Phil McCune has coached at Dakota for 14 years.
“I think kids nowadays…they’re sold short. A lot of people think this generation is all about texting and being on the phone. I disagree. I think a lot of the kids that I have, a lot of them do this because they love it," he says.
Every one of Coach McCune's teams has had the mandate to give back to the community through volunteer work whether is be at Glen Peters, or serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless.
"This is my fourth year doing it, so I see some of the same people every time I go. And just to see what they’re going through and see what they’re struggling through…it’s really eye opening," says Bieniewicz.
The volunteering they do as team has benefits on the court as well.
"It makes us a lot closer. We’re a lot more understanding of each other. It shows on the court a lot," says Basila.
"This team I have this year has bonded more than I think any team I’ve ever had," says Coach McCune.
For Bieniewicz, this kind of community service is already helping propel her towards her future goals.
"I love Glen Peters because I want to go into special education when I’m older, so that just makes me so happy every time."