Student teachers: Oxbow girls basketballers use Saturdays to instruct future Olympians

  • Maggi Elsworth, right, coaches Aubree Davis, 10, center, and Addison Kingsbury, 10, during a basketball clinic at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Players from the Oxbow High School girls varsity basketball team host clinics on Saturday mornings for local third through sixth graders. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Alexa Kosakowski, right, helps Kendall Barrett, 12, position her hands on the ball correctly during a basketball clinic at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Darcy O’Connell, center, cheers for her team as they run onto the court for a scrimmage during a basketball clinic at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • From left, Rylee Pike, 11, Emma Manley, 10, Charlotte Swift, 11, Aubree Davis, 10, Brooklyn Chaffee, 10, Addison Kingsbury, 10, Kayleigh Davis, 12, and Alyssa Kosakowski, 11, scrimmage during a basketball clinic at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2022 10:07:56 PM
Modified: 1/15/2022 10:06:52 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — Alexa Kosakowski has been playing basketball since kindergarten, and she honed her craft on wintry Saturday mornings at Oxbow High’s Mona Garone Gym, learning from the Olympians’ varsity players alongside her fellow local third through sixth graders.

Now, as a senior guard on the Oxbow girls basketball team, she’s helping pay it forward.

“It was super-fun for me as a kid,” Kosakowski said. “When I came, all the varsity players here, I always looked up to (them), so to be on the other end of that is really cool for me. To be able to spend time with the younger kids and know that I’m the one they look up to now, I enjoy it.”

The clinics have evolved quite a bit since Barry Emerson’s first season as varsity head coach in 2013-14, when it was just one weekend. Now, it’s become 10 weekends of drills and scrimmages — third and fourth graders one Saturday; fifth and sixth graders the next.

Kosakowski and senior guard Emma Parkin, the Olympians’ leading scorer so far this year at 13.8 points per game, were in one of Emerson’s first crop of fifth and sixth graders. They helped Oxbow become co-VPA Division III champions in 2020 after the semifinals and final were canceled when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Olympians returned to the semifinals in 2021, losing to Lake Region.

“It really builds the program here at Oxbow,” Parkin said. “We prepare them for when they come here in middle school, and they basically already know all the drills we do. It just makes the process a lot easier and it makes the team much closer.”

Emerson and the varsity players lead the kids for 75 minutes in ball handling, passing, shooting and defensive drills, sometimes in one big group and sometimes in smaller breakout sessions at each hoop. Everyone in the gym is wearing a mask at all times. They typically end with a five-on-five scrimmage, which the high schoolers coach and officiate — zebra-striped tops, whistles and all.

Kosakowski said acting as a coach helps her understand how her coaches sometimes feel during the Oxbow games.

“When you’re on the sidelines watching the younger girls play and you realize they mess up little things that we just talked about, you’re like, ‘Why are you doing that?’ You realize how your coach feels when you go in and do the wrong thing that we had just talked about,” Kosakowski said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s funny at the same time because I know what (Emerson) feels like.”

The varsity players earn community service hours for running the clinics, and Oxbow charges $10 for each participant. The kids receive T-shirts, and the fifth and sixth graders get to play an exhibition during halftime at an Olympians game. Emerson said the exhibition was always the highlight in pre-pandemic times, when 250 to 300 people would be in attendance.

But the clinics are just as beneficial for the high schoolers, too — teaching basketball to the younger kids can help them analyze their own game.

“The younger kids really enjoy coming and getting some basketball skill work in, and it’s fun to watch my team teach, coach and officiate,” Emerson said. “It’s hard to really learn something until you have to teach it to somebody else. When you do, then you really learn it.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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