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Playing on The Owls basketball team

Photo Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Scott Kiley, Hempstead

After a break of many years, our new principal, George Carter, brought back The Owls basketball team.

Principal Carter has done many great things for our school, but we think the greatest thing he’s done is bring back our school’s team. We think this will improve school spirit and bring our community closer.

Principal Carter selected Ms. Carissa Pirotta to coach The Owls. Ms. Pirotta is a fifth-grade teacher who has extensive basketball experience. She was inspired to play basketball in elementary school by her older brother who played the game. She was on numerous travel teams, CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) teams, and she was on her high school and college teams. She was a shooting guard for St. Joseph’s College, where she holds the three-point record. Ms. Pirotta also coached a middle-school basketball team for three years. Mr. Carter knew he needed an amazing coach to manage and lead The Owls.

Coach Pirotta’s selection process for The Owls was both fair and very selective. In her letter about the basketball tryouts, she indicated that “Each athlete will be evaluated on basketball skills during different stations (shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, defense, 3 on 3, 5 on 5) effort, ability to listen and learn as well as classroom behavior, conduct, and citizenship.”

Coach Pirotta selected 10 fifth-graders, five fourth-graders, and two managers. Practices are held after school on Thursdays for two hours. At every practice and before every game, Coach Pirotta reviews all the plays she has taught us for reinforcement.

Having the basketball team is really raising our school spirit. One great way was selecting the name, The Owls, connecting our school’s mascot to the team. Owls are a symbol of wisdom and intelligence. Being part of a basketball team makes us feel like we are a school team.

The first game was held Dec. 8, 2015. The Owls, wearing their purple and white uniforms representing the school’s colors, played a local team in District 25. We Owls were nervous for our first game, having practiced only three times and playing against a team that had been together for a couple of years. The excitement and anxiety were high. The cheerleaders were loud, bringing excitement to the court. The first quarter was a tie. The second quarter, the other team was losing the ball frequently, and The Owls had a 6-point lead. In the third quarter, the opposing team had a 6-point lead. In the last quarter, we made all of our shots. The final score was 34 to 22. The Owls had won their very first game. P.S. 79’s pride was roaring. The Owls were jumping and shouting for joy and were high-fiving one another.

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