Seniors Grant Bardelli and Charlie Soucey influence middle schoolers in basketball coaching opportunity


Every so often, Central Middle school teacher and coach Paul TenEyck searches and enlists high schoolers to help coach for the middle school basketball team. This year, he asked two of his previous students and players, Charlie Soucey and Grant Bardelli, to see if they’d like to help out for the 2017-2018 season.

“It’s happened for three or four times in the past,” TenEyck said. “They are normally former students of mine who have played basketball for me at the middle school or played on the varsity golf team. With Charlie and Grant, they fit both bills.”

Both boys were excited about the opportunity and found themselves wanting to learn more about the coaching experience.

“Well, I played basketball at the middle school level when I was there,” Grant said. “I have always loved basketball, and [even now] I still play. I play golf as well, and Mr. TenEyck is also my golf coach. He knew I liked basketball, so he texted me and asked me if I wanted to do it. Once I realized [the basketball schedule] was pretty flexible, I got really excited to start coaching.”

Charlie was equally as thrilled as Grant, but this will be a very different experience for him. While both boys love the sport, Charlie doesn’t have as much knowledge of the technique and rules of the sport as Grant does.

“I have no basketball background [at all],” Charlie said. “I watch a lot of basketball, and I like it because it is really fast-paced and fun. After [TenEyck] asked me [to help coach,] I [wasn’t sure because] I don’t know anything about basketball, but it sounds like a good time to me.”

Charlie and Grant made sure that the schedule was flexible, so they have time for homework, work, and other commitments. The team practices all weekdays as well as games on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Since Charlie and I are seniors, we are old enough that sometimes Mr. TenEyck will have a meeting or practice, and then he’ll have just us individually run the team,” Grant said. “That is actually a lot of fun because it gives you more of an idea of what it would actually be like to coach. When he is there, the kids are going to respect him more than [Charlie and I]. But then it’s all on us [when we coach practices], and we have to give them directions.”

With both TenEyck as well as the boys in coaching positions, there is an interesting dynamic between the trio.

“We keep it light, fun, and enjoyable,” Charlie said. “We give them a contrast from Coach TenEyck who is a bit more serious and straightforward. Grant and I like to shake it up a bit and keep all the action.”

Part of the “action” that happens at practices is up to Grant and Charlie. Another interesting aspect that the duo brings to the team is their interesting perspective during games.

“[On game day,] Grant and I sit on the bench and try to recognize some stuff that TenEyck is not able to see,” Charlie said. “Just being able to have another set of eyes can help out and make it a little bit more interesting.”

Grant’s hefty resume of experience on the court comes in handy when they are in charge of the team.

“A lot of what we do is what I did as a kid,” Grant said. “I just try to remember what I did, what I thought was fun, and what helped me be better. Then I’ll just show them and make them do it.”

I have talked to a lot of them and have gotten to know a lot of them so it is fun. It also helps them get to interact with older high school kids. So that when they come to high school they aren’t as scared of talking to older kids or intimated.

— Grant Bardelli

Under the supervision of TenEyck, Grant and Charlie are not only getting a great experience but many NHS volunteer hours. That is normally the driving force for highschoolers coming down to the middle school along with their passion and devotion to helping others.

“Honestly I just look for somebody that I know I am going to be able to work well with and know that they are going to work well with me,” TenEyck said. “So it really comes down to that personal connection I have with the kids. Charlie would probably be the first one to tell you he’s not a basketball player. He doesn’t know a whole lot about basketball, but he loves it. He loves coming down, helping out, being a part of the team, and being with the kids. Grant has played before, and it is really nice for him to have that skill set. It lets him stay active in the sport.”

While Grant and Charlie have obvious personable and leadership skills accompanied by the drive, they really put a lot of heart into their work with the middle schoolers.

“It is weird going back down to the middle school,” Grant said. “It is just a whole new place with all new faces. I was concerned at first that it would be weird not knowing anyone. There are a lot of kids; [they] are pretty funny, I mean they’re middle school kids. They like to mess with a lot, and they are pretty crazy. So I feel like it helps both ways. It helps me with coaching because I feel like it would be something fun to do later in life. It helps them learn how to interact with older kids.”