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The Mount St. Dominic and Livingston girls basketball teams get together on the court in Mary Jo Codey Gymnasium on the campus of the Mount during their combined workout in late July. The unique idea of Lancers coach Buddy Wolfe worked perfectly in combining forces with Dave Mead's Lady Lions for a successful evening of drills and pick-up ball. (photo courtesy of the Mount)

Mount & Livingston Combine
For Productive Summer Idea

By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

When it comes to the busy July ‘live’ period in basketball, as high school players can be courted by college coaches and leagues and tournaments take place all over the country the greater emphasis is on the boys while the girls sometimes don’t have quite as many venues from where to show off their hoops skills.

And, when we’re talking actual competition, while boys teams from Essex County have a number of alternatives, including the nearby, popular Bloomfield Summer League, the girls are sometimes challenged to find as many outlets to simply play the game although there is a good league in West Orange for schools that have enough girls available to field a team on a nightly basis.

Dave Mead, who is the second-year head girls hoops coach at Mount St. Dominic Academy, and fellow Livingston High School teacher Buddy Wolfe came up with a unique and very productive way for their respective squads to gain some productive experience while working together toward the common goal of simply trying to get better while making the most of a summertime opportunity.

On a late July evening Wolfe’s Livingston Lady Lancers joined Mead’s Lady Lions for a combined summer workout at the Mount’s Mary Jo Codey Gymnasium located on the Caldwell Catholic school’s campus.

The two teams did some skill work, had a shooting contest and then played a pick-up game amongst themselves, which was enhanced in terms of numbers with Livingston bringing its dozen girls and the Mount having eight of their own hoopster on hand.

Normally, during the busy summer when girls –like the guys – are scattered among different sports teams, camps and vacations, getting enough bodies together for either a summer league or even a 5-on-5 pick-up game can be a supreme challenge.

However, Wolfe’s creative concept for getting more out of the summer for his girls and his friend Mead’s Mount Lady Lions as well simply brought out the best in terms of productivity and enjoyment for all involved.

“It was Buddy’s idea and I loved the concept when he talked to me about doing this after last season,” said Mead, who has also been the boys coach at both Livingston and Boonton. “Although we will compete in the same division (Super Essex Conference-Colonial) next winter when we’ll be trying to beat each other on the court, we both believe strongly that although we’re conference rivals we can come together during the summer to help each other get better.

“I’d like to think it’s about adults putting their heads together to help the kids and we want to build on this idea with hopefully more schools involved with us next year.”

Meade said they’d like to reach out to schools such as Cedar Grove and Caldwell, who are both also members of the SEC-Colonial, to perhaps get involved in a few combined workouts next summer.

Wolfe, who is a teacher’s aide at Mt. Pleasant elementary school in Livingston, also had his Livingston girls get together for a similar combined workout with the Kent Place School in Summit. One of that school’s assistant coaches is former Livingston volunteer coaches and Mt. Pleasant middle school teacher Leon Alirangues.

“When you think about what could be best for your girls, and the fact that everyone has such tremendous respect for Dave Mead as both a social studies teacher and coach (longtime assistant to Jason Daily in softball for the highly-successful Lancers diamond squad), combining our team with the Mount was really a no-brainer as far as I saw it,” said Wolfe, who had been a longtime girls assistant for the Lancers before taking the head job two seasons ago. “Sure we’re going to compete against each other next season, but if we can help each other get better I think that’s what high school sports should be all about.”

Add in the fact that both Livingston (2-20 last season) and the Mount (5-22 in 2016-2017) are both in total rebuilding modes, any combined concept that can boost each other is certainly worth undertaking.

“The whole premise is to teach kids the game and try and help them become better players,” said Mead. “Back in the day there would be pickup games all the time, but that just isn’t the way it is anymore so if we can try and do something together as two or more schools moving forward where the kids enjoy themselves and also benefit from the friendly competition then the experience will hopefully be better for all involved, which is definitely what we felt when we got together last month.”

Hopefully, in the minds of both Mead and Wolfe, the combined summer workouts can become even more commonplace for their schools and others in 2018.

“One of my mentors is Jim Baglin, the legendary boys basketball coach at Mendham, and I saw how productive he was with his open gym workouts with 30 or more boys coming out to work on their games and also play pick-up,” continued Mead. “It might be tougher today to get as many kids out on a nightly basis in the summer with so many other commitments; however, if we can get our seven or eight girls along with Livingston’s 10 or 12 and then we get another five girls from, say, Cedar Grove, then I think we’re going to have something that can work for all of us, and I hope we can make that a reality for more of us next summer!”

FREE THROWS- Mead, who stands 6-foot-4, played his high school hoops for the legendary Bob Lester at Montclair High and his collegiate hoops at Susquehanna and his older brother, John (Montclair High Class of ’84) played collegiately at Wooster…The Meads’ parents, Marie and Bill, were strong supporters of Mountie boys hoops when their sons played at the high school…Dave Mead also coached for one season under George Mixon at Montclair Kimberley Academy…When he worked on Bingo Silvera’s coaching staff at MHS as Al Valentine’s freshmen assistant, Mead worked with legendary Mountie standouts Samad Fisher and Kamal Rountree (Brown University) when they were young high school hoopsters on the rise….One of Livingston’s top, young players is senior point guard Ashley Reuter who was part of the Lancers’ summer squad….The Mount has a number of young players on the rise including sophomore guard Megan Robinson, junior forwards Abbey Garaban, Elena Matarazzo and Nicole Espinal and senior forward Gabby Radici.

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

 

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