Friday, September 10, 2010
Community Corner: A New Blackstone
By Chris Forsberg
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonTony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette led students through basketball drills at Blackstone Elementary.
BOSTON -- Quizzed on the parts of his game that could help him make the Celtics' roster this fall, Tony Gaffney had just finished discussing with reporters his defense-first mentality when a ball-hawking elementary student sneaked up behind him and picked his pocket.
Clearly, the students at the basketball clinic that Gaffney and fellow roster hopeful Oliver Lafayette were leading Friday were paying attention.
The Celtics organization, along with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and City Year, invaded the Blackstone Elementary School in the South End for a school transformation that also featured more than 100 volunteers that cleaned up and created an outdoor classroom space at the turnaround school.
Gaffney and Lafayette joined Celtics legend Dana Barros and assistant coach Mike Longabardi in hosting the afternoon clinics, while everyone from legend Cedric Maxwell to owner Wyc Grousbeck and the Celtics Dancers visited the school for the festivities.
Beyond promoting an active lifestyle, the members of the Celtics helped the volunteers beautify the grounds, which included mural painting both inside and outside of the building.
Decked out in an "Ubuntu" name tag, Blackstone principal Stephen Zrike raved about the Celtics involvement in the project.
"We're so happy to have this type of involvement on the third day of school," said Zrike, whose efforts to restore the low-achieving school was documented earlier this week in the Boston Globe. "To have real life basketball players here sending positive messages, the kids are really engaged. They are great role models for the kids by having this positive impact."
Even as they face an uphill battle to compete for a roster spot with the Celtics this season, Gaffney and Lafayette seemed to enjoy the break in the action, smiling as they led the kids through basic drills and games. At one point during passing drills, Gaffney asked his group if they knew who Rajon Rondo was and received a few quizzical glances. By the end of the session, the kids were asking Gaffney to autograph anything they could find.
Check out the video below as Gaffney, Lafayette, and Barros lead the clinic.