Local Alternative School Students Turn To Basketball For A Positive Outlet

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Students from Belle Point Alternative School are now finding a new outlet to help get them back on track.

"I just kind of grew up playing street ball," student Tyrek Perry said. "You know, it something to do. I'm not out here getting in trouble, I'm in there playing basketball.

The idea came from one of the school's teachers.

"As the [physical education] teacher, I tried to find something that they would all love to do and most of the students love playing basketball," coach Grant Needham said.

The team includes not only Belle Point players, but also students from Northside and Southside High Schools.

"They get to play against some of their former classmates and students from other schools that they've grown up competing against," Needham said.

Playing basketball gives these students a chance to stay out of trouble and Coach Needham said it has also raised attendance numbers.

"At school, not every student gets to have P.E.," Needham said. "Through the basketball team, it's given them an outlet where they get to practice every day. It's kind of kept them out of trouble because we have certain rules. If they get in trouble at school they can't play in games, so it really helped us cut down on some office referrals and given the kids something to look forward to."

Although the students are attending an alternative school, the coach said his players deserve a second chance.

"It's really given people in the community a chance to see that our students aren't exactly just terrible kids," Needham said. "They really are typical, average kids."

The team won their game on Thursday (Feb. 23) night and will play in the championship game on Monday (Feb. 27) at the Stephens Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith.