Challenger program hits the hardwood

"It's very rewarding to watch him grow," said Tetreault. "It's a slow road, but he's definitely getting better (at sports). It's nice that they have these programs available, too."

Peg Ellett's 14-year-old daughter, Jessica, is another multi-challenger sport participant, but was more excited about the basketball program than the others.

"If I had to ask her what her favorite sport is, it's basketball. She's a basketball junkie," said Ellett, a Latham resident. "She couldn't wait to come here today and play."

Like other challenger programs, the Shooting Stars league emphasizes learning the basic skills of the sport and allowing everyone to participate with the help of volunteers, many of whom are high school athletes. At the first day of the Shooting Stars league, members of Shaker's boys and Colonie Central's girls basketball teams taught the players how to dribble, pass and shoot the basketball. The younger players shot at a floor-based basket 4 feet off the ground, while the older players shot at a standard 10-foot hoop.

"The (volunteers) show them what to do and talk to them," said Wrieden.

Shaker varsity boys basketball coach Jeff Holmes said it was important for him to get his players involved in the program.

"It kind of brings a lump to my throat watching (my players work with the kids)," said Holmes. "They are having such a good time. I'm sure that when they leave, they'll think, 'Boy, that hour went by fast.'"

Steadman helped with the younger athletes, showing them how to make a bounce pass and how to shoot the ball.

"Shooting was what I always thought was fun," said Steadman, a senior at Shaker. "Being handicapped, I'm not as fast as the other kids, so I try to work on shooting."

"He shoots the ball on the sidelines all the time," said Holmes. "He's actually a really good shooter."

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