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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

Tufts men's basketball lends a hand at Medford High basketball clinic

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The Tufts men’s basketball team helped kindergarten through eighth graders learn basketball fundamentals at a clinic hosted by Medford High School on Oct. 15. This was the team’s first collaboration with the high school and part of an ongoing effort to connect the team with the neighborhoods surrounding Tufts, according to Tufts men's basketball coach Bob Sheldon.

“We made a commitment this year ... to do more community involvement,” Sheldon said. “We’re doing an autism game. We’re doing a breast cancer game. Five of our guys are Big Brothers. We just want to get more involved.”

The event was born from Medford High School boys’ basketball coach John Skerry’s (LA ‘94) long-standing relationship with the university, Sheldon and Skerry said. A Tufts alumnus, Skerry said he played basketball under Sheldon in college.

“Coach Sheldon reached out and said he wanted to do some outreach, and I was psyched that they wanted to come up and work with us,” Skerry said.

Nearly the entire Tufts team came out at 9 a.m. on Saturday to teach Medford youth the fundamentals of basketball. Basketball players from the Medford High School team were also on hand to help instruct the younger students.

Skerry said that the clinics are focused on teaching the basics rather than scrimmaging.

“Every week, we stress the fundamentals. We don’t do a lot of scrimmaging. Passing and handling, proper stance, proper footwork. Too often, kids don’t have fundamentals. My goal is that every kid in Medford can handle a basketball,” Skerry said.

He noted that the clinic can serve as an important pipeline for developing future high school talent.

While the clinic normally serves as a fundraiser for the youth basketball program, requiring participants to pay a small fee, the Oct. 15 clinic was free of charge, according to Skerry. Skerry said he hopes that Tufts players' participation in the clinic will increase awareness about the program.

“Any time you can get an Elite Eight program to help [out] with the youth of Medford, that’s an opportunity you want to jump on,” Skerry said, referring to when Tufts advanced to the Elite Eight last year. “This is for kids K-8, future Medford high players and maybe even some future Tufts players.”

Tufts senior captain Tom Palleschi said that the team recognizes the importance of its involvement in events such as these.

“We all went to basketball camps when we were younger," he said. "We all need something like this.”

Sheldon said the team-wide event gave the Tufts players a chance to work together before the season officially starts on Nov. 1, according to NESCAC guidelines.

“This is as much for us as it is for Medford because it’s going to bring us a little closer to come down here together and do some work as a team,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon underscored that these kinds of events are important for Tufts’ relationship with the community.

“I think Tufts needs to have a good public image within Medford and Somerville because a lot of times when there’s a party or stuff, there’s a bad image thing,” Sheldon said. “We just want to show them that there are good people at Tufts; we want to help out.”