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Archives Canton parish offers ‘Holy Hoops’ program

February 24, 2021

By Darcy Fargo

CANTON – It’s Holy Hoops!

St. Mary’s in Canton is offering a parish youth basketball program for parish youth in grades one through 12.

“They had to be parishioners and they had to attend Canton Central,” said Paula Jones, founder and coordinator of the Holy Hoops program, describing program participants. “We started January 11. It was two weeks after the holidays, so we thought it would be a safer time with the holidays done.”

As part of the program, youth gather in small groups – pandemic-related requirements dictate that no more than eight youth can participate at any given time – based on age level to work on basketball skills and drills in the St. Mary’s School gym.

“With the pandemic, these kids have really lost a lot,” said Jones. “And this gym was just sitting here empty. We thought this would give the kids a safe place they could be together and get some physical activity. It’s for their physical, mental and social wellbeing. They need to have something.”

The program runs Monday through Thursday, with three different groups playing each night. Up to grade six, boys and girls are mixed. Youth in grades seven through 12 play in same-gender groupings. Participants need to pre-reserve a space, and a new permission slip and COVID questionnaire is completed for every night of participation.

“We plan all the activities to keep them as distant as possible,” Jones said. “We’re not playing games at all. It’s all drills and skill work. I let them have a few minutes to free shoot at the beginning, and I let them play something like ‘HORSE’ at the end. It has to have some fun.”

And the youth are glad to have the opportunity.

“I’d had a few opportunities to get together with my friends outside, but this is really our first opportunity to get together and play (basketball),” said Ryan Jones, 15. “I wish we were on a full-sized court, but this works, too. It’s just nice to be working on our game.”

“It’s great to see these guys and play a little ball,” added Sam Sieminski, 15, of Canton. “It’s been tough not knowing if we’re going to have a season (of basketball at the high school). I trust the school and the public officials to make that decision. I’m just glad to have at least some opportunity to play basketball. I love team sports. I love that one person can’t do all the work. You have to play as a team.”

“This gives us a chance to exercise, and we need that for our mental health,” added Sam Roiger, 17. “I’ve only had a chance to play some pick-up ball at the pavilion. I’m glad we have this chance to work on skills and work on improving our games.”

The program is staffed by six VIRTUS-trained adult coaches.

“We couldn’t have done this without this great group of volunteers,” said Jones.


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