MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – Two former collegiate basketball players are helping fill a need this winter for kids interested in the game. Carly Harrington, a former Carney-Nadeau High School and University of Michigan student athlete, and Ryan Artley, who went to Baraga High School and played at Finlandia University, are now giving back to the Marquette community and the game they love with a program called Marquette Junior Wildcat Basketball.
"I was very fortunate to grow up in what I like to call a basketball town. I think most people in the U.P. would call Carney-Nadeau a basketball town and I know what it was like to grow up and have those opportunities and have a coach like Paul Polfus who was giving so much of his spare time to coach kids to play basketball all the time, of all ages, and I know what that did for me as a player," says Carly Harrington, President of Marquette Junior Wildcat Basketball.
"I've been waiting to jump on something like this because it's a need in Marquette. I have young kids and I want to get in the gym and teach them skills of the game of basketball," explains Ryan Artley, Vice President of Marquette Junior Wildcat Basketball.
In comes Marquette Junior Wildcat Basketball - a new program beginning this winter for kids Kindergarten through 8th grade. There will be two divisions - Kindergarten through 3rd grade and 4th grade through 8th grade.
"Our mission statement is to grow skills in the game of basketball through a culture of hard work, a positive attitude and a relentless drive to improve. And so that's what the kids are going to get through here. It's not a travel focus it's more just learning the skills and we're going to make it a fun thing for the kids and their parents too," Artley describes.
"For us it's really about building those skills so that the first time you're on a team, you have a better chance at learning some of the more detailed parts about basketball because you already know how to dribble, catch, shoot, all of the important things," Harrington continues.
It's a 12 week program beginning with a registration day on Jan. 11, 2020, play starting on Jan. 18, and running through March. The younger age division will cost $100 with an hour and 15 minutes of teaching, while the older age group will cost $125 for an hour and a half of play.
"The need for younger kids to just learn and to have access to the gym and just to get in with people who know the game fairly well, we just jumped on the opportunity and we've had a lot of great community support with Northern and the local area. It's not just for Marquette kids, it's for the surrounding areas," reiterates Artley. "We had great community support with a bunch of different sponsorships. Our main sponsor is from U.P. Rehab. They're the main t-shirt sponsor. They're actually going to be providing athletic training information just to ensure safety for the kids and to answer any questions that the parents may have."
The deadline to register for Marquette Junior Wildcat Basketball is Dec. 1. For more information on how to register, you can visit the program Facebook page.