One of a kind team

Posted at: 02/04/2013 6:38 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 6:39 PM
By: Robin De Wind

A local all-boys charter school is turning heads on the basketball court. The principal is creating a winning attitude for these young men  in the classroom, and it's paying off when they come to play.

Imagine never having home court advantage or driving more than an hour just to get to the game and when you get there, your competition is taller, older and more experienced than you are. That's every game for the boys who play for University Prep Charter School in the city. But this team is proof that the challenge only makes them better.

The University Prep Charter School Basketball Team can't practice until all their homework is done.

Joe Munno, University Prep Charter School principal, said, “My goal is beyond graduation to prepare them to be successful men in this community.>

The all-boys charter school is the vision of principal Joe Munno. A former teacher and administrator at Marshall for three decades, Munno wanted to create a school for boys that rewards academic success.

Munno said, “The athletics, the music, the clubs that's what brings the boys to the school and I want to build on those things and academics will happen here at University Prep. Our average attendance is 98 percent.”

Munno recruited Section V veteran Dick Cerone to be athletic director and former School of the Arts coach Gerard Iglesia, to assist head coach Raheem Miller,  a successful East High grad who played Division I football at Michigan State, to help see that this next generation succeeds.

Raheem miller, coach, said, “Before practice, they have to have their school work done so we get it done. If not, there is a second practice so they don't go home tired and can't get their work done.”

Miller's starting five are a sophomore, two freshman and two eight graders, easily outsized by most squads, University Prep didn't shy away from playing varsity over JV. At this school, it's all about overcoming challenges.

Cameron Myles, sophomore, said, “When we get to the schools, it's crazy. We have to settle ourselves down and play our own game.”

University Prep is in Class D and has to play all its games on the road. Their gym is too small.

Miller said, “We're going an hour away. Their focus level is high. We get to the other court and what they do is remarkable for their age group.”

Quillian Leach-Alexander said, “The bus rides are long. We never have home crowds. We're fighting through it, we get the W's.”

University Prep is 11 and 2 and and ranked third in the state. One of their losses was to Class AA Webster Thomas..

Myles said, “They let us know it was their house. They are big, we are small. We learned how to move the ball how to shoot out of the box basic things.”

Lessons learned in the classroom and on the court that will last a lifetime.

Leach-Alexander said, “All boys helps us focus on academics, we practice hard. We play together it's like a family.”

University Prep was the first school of its kind in western New Work  and it opened three years ago. It will add a class each year. The basketball team has a tough game coming up Tuesday when they face Batavia Notre-Dame High School. The team says they are ready.