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Coach Takes Inner City Basketball Team to Championship

Nick Reich. Photo courtesy of the Evansville Courier-Press.

Cheers to Huffington Post for this article on Nick Reich, coach of the Indianapolis Metropolitan High School basketball team.

Reich was a social worker at the school but decided to become basketball coach in 2007.

Indy Metro High is an inner city high school created by Goodwill Education Initiatives to give a second chance to underserved students.  Eighty percent of the students at the school are from low-income families, many are two grade levels behind, and the school had no gym or basketball program until Reich took on coaching in his spare time.

The team practiced at public parks and at first had a miserable record, sometimes getting blown out by 50 points by opposing teams. Some team members quit while others got into legal problems or were suspended.

But Reich kept working with his team and supporting his students through good times and bad. And the Puma basketball team gradually improved and became like a family for some students.

This year the team many had never heard of before won the Class A state championship. One of the highlights of the season was a 60-foot buzzer-beating shot by Jerrbyron Graves on March 12 that allowed the Pumas to beat Madison Shawe Memorial 64-61. That improbable win allowed the Pumas to advance in the finals.

“I believe in second chances so I didn’t want to turn my back on them,” Reich said. “Every kid on the team has been able to get where they are because of second chances.”

To watch Jerrbyron Grave’s game-winning shot, click here.

Social workers often help young people overcome life’s obstacles. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Kids & Families Web page by clicking here.

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