Men's Basketball

Vikings Get Good Grades On Courts

The Hudson Valley Community College men's basketball team visited a group of youngsters at Boght Hills Elementary School in Latham on Tuesday evening. The Vikings took to the court with 30 kids in grades three through six, and talked academics and athletics

"One thing I've learned in life is that you have to work hard in and out of the classroom," said Vince Medici, men's basketball coach at Hudson Valley Community College.

Last night marked the fifth consecutive year that Medici has teamed up with Dan Bonomo, a Colonie Youth Center basketball coach, to bring the Vikings and Boght Hills Elementary School together. Medici, who has taught physical education at Greenwich Elementary School for the past 12 years, said the event demonstrates that student-athletes can be role models.

"These guys are in school because they want to become better people," said Medici, addressing the young students as he pointed toward his team. "They want to get good jobs after they graduate. And they know that if they don't get good grades, they're off the team � As a team, we have about a B average. That's pretty good, and that's probably why we're 18-4."

Medici's Vikings appear to be on track to repeat the success of last season, when they finished eighth in the nation among NJCAA Division III teams and contended for academic team of the year. Hudson Valley Community College is currently ranked 14th in the nation and they have the fifth-ranked defense, allowing just 64.0 points per game. They knocked off the eighth-ranked NJCAA Division III team last week.

Medici began last evening's activities by grilling the Boght Hills Elementary School kids about their homework. He used the absence of his 6-foot-5 center, Tom Perren of New Jersey, and his gym-shaking dunks, to prove an academic point.

"Tom's not here because he's in class right now," Medici said. "That's the most important thing. Along with basketball, it's important to stay in class and do your work at home."

After stressing the importance of schoolwork, Medici turned the Vikings and the youngsters loose on the basketball court. Hudson Valley Community College's leading scorer, Dave Walden of Albany High, wowed the kids with reverse jams, drawing cheers of "Show Time!" The Hudson Valley Community College players also ran through individualized drills with their smaller counterparts, working on ballhandling, shooting and rebounding.

"This is exactly what they need," Bonomo said, grinning as he watched the Boght Hills Elementary School students interact on the basketball court with the Hudson Valley Community College student-athletes. "They see these guys and they think, 'Maybe I can be like them.'"

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley Community College has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.