At Detention Home, Sports A Tool To Help Shape Future

December 29, 1991|By Neil Lippy | Neil Lippy,Contributing sports writer

MIDDLEBURG — Andre Torrence had his best game against Heritage Academy, with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals.

Tony McCoy took second place in a YMCA power-lifting contest by bench-pressing 295 pounds.

Allan Turner scored 16 points and had 10 assists against Carroll Christian and plans to major in psychology at Carroll Community College next year.

If it seems like all of these young men participate in a regular high school athletic program, they do -- thanks to Bowling Brook School Executive Director Mike Sunday. The school houses 36 students who have juvenile delinquent backgrounds. But what concerns Sunday is not so much their past but their future.

"We are trying to normalize their experience; for these kids, we want to create opportunities they haven't had yet," he said.

Sunday and Athletic Director Frank Klein are creating a program similar to one at the Glenmill School in Pennsylvania. The athletic program tries to make the highschool experience as normal as possible within the detention environment .

"The main thing is these kids are getting a regular high school program, they are not just sitting around doing nothing," Klein said.

What Sunday and Klein have envisioned is an athletic programas similar to a high school's as a small school will allow.

Bowling Brook has competed in a cross country season and is starting a basketball and power-lifting program. But plans for the athletic programdon't stop there.

"We are hoping to expand to 50 kids and build another cottage," Klein said. "Even with what we have now, we want to field a football team."

Fielding a football team takes a little more effort and money than a cross country or basketball team, but Bowling Brook is equipped with the staff to do it.

All members of the school are former college athletes and provide not only athletic instruction but academic instruction as well.

Basketball coach and counselor Paul Grier is typical of the staff. Grier was a standout on Glenville (W.Va.) State University's basketball team and now brings hisskills to the classroom and court.

"With basketball, we just try to teach the game of life," he said. "The coaches that I've played for have taught me different things about life, and that's what I hope to teach here."

Said Klein: "Coaches use athletics as a teaching tool. When you

fail, you have to try harder next time. The kids canvisualize things much faster on the court."

The learn-life-through-competition philosophy is the foundation for the Bowling Brook School.

Sunday said the academics and athletics go hand in hand to "creating a social culture and certain values." And the students seem toget the message.

"If I don't keep up my academics, I don't get toplay," said Torrence, a star forward for the Thoroughbreds, so namedbecause the school was built on land that was once part of a breeding and training farm. "The basketball program has bettered my attitude."

So far, the basketball team remains undefeated in both games and scrimmages. The cross country team has competed in a county meet, and the power-lifting squad plans to compete in more meets.

The main problem for Bowling Brook is finding enough schools its size to compete against. The red tape of state regulations is hindering the teams from competing against other schools in the area.

Most games arein New Jersey or Pennsylvania, requiring considerable travel.

"Itgives the guys the opportunity to be part of something," 18-year-oldAllan Turner said. "They have never been part of anything. They takepride in what they do."

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