Basketball program at Kelly Elementary in play thanks to efforts - KPTV - FOX 12

Basketball program at Kelly Elementary in play thanks to efforts by nonprofit, coach

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Thanks to the efforts of the Portland nonprofit "Off the Sideline" and a coach who is back on the sidelines after a battle with breast cancer, the Kelly Elementary kids are hooping it up.

Kelly Elementary physical education teacher Bernadette Diepenbrock is a believer in after school sports.

"I feel like being on a team is a wonderful opportunity that all kids should have," she said.

A basketball program wasn't previously offered at the school until the former Grant High School JV coach arrived and posted a sign-up sheet in the gym.

"At first she said boys, and I'm like, 'oh.' Then she said girls, and I'm like, 'oh oh oh!'" said student Monikah Stolzer.

From third to fifth grade, both girls and boys, the Kelly Cougars had six full teams in year one.

"I have seen so much personal growth, so much maturity happen through this process, eight weeks of basketball," said Diepenbrock.

The fifth grade ladies under "Coach D" just went 7-and-1.

"After we lost, Coach D still held us up and that is what I will always love about Coach D. She'll always be my favorite. Even when I go to sixth grade," said Onesty Jones.

"If you improve, that's the win. If you improve something that you love doing, than you are winning. Regardless of what the score is," said Diepenbrock.

Winning on the court and in the game of life.

"A lot of the students at the school don't have as much support as they need to accomplish their goals so I have found that just as important as it is for me to teach them how to do layups, they need love and support, and food and rides and everything that kids need so I do what I can," Diepenbrock said.

Full hoops, full hearts.

"I wish we would have practice, like, every day," said Jaslene Ratcliff.

"We don't put each other down, we build each other up," India Green said.

The kids are filling up Diepenbrock's heart too. This was her first season coaching again after the divorced mother of three battled breast cancer.

"It's been amazing. I love being back on the sidelines coaching. I love everything about it," she said. "You get that since of family and connection and there's a lot of love, friendship, responsibility that you can teach through the game. We are competitive, we are serious about it to so they can work hard, achieve their goals, their self-esteem will go up and they realize that they can do things. That they put their mind to it, they work hard and they accomplish their goals."

Don't waste a day, it's what Diepenbrock lives and passes on to the kids, whose Portland Parks and Rec league fees were sponsored by the nonprofit "Off the Sideline."

"We had so many players benefit and have basketball be part of their identity as who they are as people and I can't imagine what it would be like if they didn't have that opportunity, so Off the Sideline is amazing and I am so happy to find them and get their support," said Diepenbrock.

Diepenbrock also runs a summer league program. Last year she had 32 kids, and now she expects at least 60.

The summer program she started at Grant High School years ago is now up over 200 kids.

Anyone who would like to assist with funds for next seasons teams can contact Kelly Elementary PTA: kellyelementarypta.info

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