June 13, 2011

BASKETBALL: Gilman Street School 'meant for basketball'

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- It's been years since the gymnasium in the Gilman Street School hosted a basketball game. But the place where the Waterville Senior High School boys basketball team began its run to the 1944 New England championship is home to hoops again.

click image to enlarge

WATCHFUL EYE: Gilman Street Basketball Club founder Lenny Holmes watches as Taylor Poissonnier, who is considering joining the organization, practices shooting during an open house Sunday at the Gilman Street School in Waterville.

Staff photo by David Leaming

"This place was meant for basketball," Lenny Holmes said, standing on the baseline of the recently refurbished court.

The Gilman Street Basketball Club held an open house Sunday. Holmes, one of the club's directors, said the facility will be a place that will provide instruction to basketball players of all ages, as well as house leagues and a weight training area.

As developer Kevin Bunker and his partners renovated the rest of the school into apartments, Bunker approached Holmes and asked if had a use for the gymnasium, which previously was home to the Bounce Zone, which featured inflatable buildings in which children could play.

"I just said this has got to be a basketball place," said Holmes, who played college basketball at UMaine-Machias and coached high school basketball in Windham.

Working with Holmes is Tony Staffiere, a Veazie native and longtime basketball coach who most recently worked as an assistant coach with the Colby College women's basketball team.

"Tony's a lot like myself, guys who love the game," Holmes said.

A former AAU state director, Holmes envisions the Gilman Street Basketball Club as a place basketball players can get top notch instruction. The facility will provide specialty clinics specific to different positions, from post play to point guard skills. Holmes feels players need more time practicing their skills and less time playing games.

"My goal, personally, is I want to start developing more of a European training model," Holmes said. "Our guys (Americans) are more athletic, but clearly not as skilled."

On Sunday, Messalonskee guard Mary Badeen spent time at the gym. Going into her senior year, Badeen said she hopes to improve her overall skills at the guard position. Badeen was one of approximately a dozen using the facility.

"I've been doing dribbling drills," Badeen said. "I'm hoping more older kids come. I'm happy for the turnout of younger kids, too."

The court was sanded down and refinished, and the stage area was transformed into a fitness center where athletes can lift weights and use other exercise equipment.

"The court was in awful shape," Holmes, who coaches the Maine Hoops Club AAU team, said. "I really just want to make this a spot for basketball . . . I want to work with younger kids and bring them up through."

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242

tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com

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