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Skills that transcend the classroom

Coach "Cooz"
Posted on 12/05/2019
Pete Cusumano

Students in the WECDSB’s basketball academy are learning much more than the skills they need to improve their game, according to Pete Cusumano. They’re learning life skills.

“Team sports offer something that can’t be taught in the classroom,” says the retired teacher and basketball academy skills expert. “It teaches you that the team is more important than one person. It’s about high-fiving teammates, not just when they do something good, but when they do something bad. That is something that can only be taught on the court, field or pitch.”

Now in his second year as the skills expert for the basketball academy at Central Park Athletics, Cusumano - a 2017 inductee into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame - says the role allows him to continue doing something he loves.

“I’m passionate about athletics,” he says. “I’m passionate about basketball. It keeps me young, working with kids. I love being here every day.”

Cusumano, who taught at Catholic Central High School for more than two decades and started coaching high school basketball in 1979, also has experience coaching at a very high level, with the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada.

A major factor that contributes to the culture of the academy is the diversity of the students, Cusumano said. They come from all over town and have a wide range of skill levels.

“Some who have played the game before and others who are just learning,” he says. “We try to get better every day. Shooting and ball handling, the two most important skills to get up to the next level, are always incorporated into every session. And even though they come from different places, they all become good friends.”

And much like Cusumano, it’s passion and love for the game that keeps them motivated to succeed.

“The kids want to be here,” he says. “They’re starting their morning with something they love – that’s important for them. For me, I love coaching. I coached for 40 years and never got paid for coaching ever. I coach because I love it.”

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