Students at Elinor Lincoln Hickey Junior-Senior High School have added incentive to perform in the classroom: many of them want the opportunity to perform on the basketball court. This school year, under the leadership of Principal Dr. Joseph Petterle, the community school has combined academics with athletics by adding a basketball program as a new incentive-building activity. "The students have responded enthusiastically," the principal said.
Elinor Lincoln Hickey Junior-Senior High School provides an alternative educational program for students expelled from various school districts in Sacramento County. The school offers an integrated curriculum in academics, life skills, technology, and vocational education and training. Students earn their way into the program after completing a series of "successful days" and maintaining their studies. The 2005-2006 school year saw the addition of the Elinor Lincoln Hickey (ELH) Kings basketball team.
During games and practices, Principal Petterle takes on different duties and becomes Coach Petterle. He said the most challenging, but still rewarding part of the coaching job is finding time on the court for the 21 players who have earned the opportunity to play thanks to their successes, both behaviorally and academically.
"Students can't play on our basketball team unless their studies are done," Petterle said. "It's an incentive."
The incentive has worked so well that, in its first year, the ELH Kings reached the playoffs in the La Sierra Athletic League with a record of 8 wins and 1 loss.
Following that heartbreaking loss in the final game of the season, as Coach Petterle gave his crew a pep talk, he encouraged them to stay the course which will allow them to continue participating in this motivational sports program.
"We need successful days!" the coach shouted to his team.
His ELH Kings players responded with "Yes, sir!" and "You got it, sir!"
Regardless of how the playoffs unfold, the ELH Kings have proven that a winning attitude impacts a student-athlete both on and off the basketball court.