Varsity boys basketball prioritizes character over points

To create a base of good character, varsity boys basketball Coach Okoteh Sackitey emphasizes essential core values. The basketball team has volunteered with Philadelphia Youth Basketball to establish community relationships and improve as individuals and a team.


Zoe Bass

Putting up points…Laying the ball in for his team, boys basketball player Nathan Hemsing plays against North Penn High School at the Coaches vs. Cancer game on December 16.

By volunteering and building relationships through team-bonding activities, the varsity boys basketball team aims to grow stronger as a team on and off the court.
According to coach Okoteh Sackitey, his inspiration behind engaging in volunteer work as a team stems back to when he played basketball for West Chester University.
His team volunteered with the Chester County Food Bank, giving turkeys to families in need on Thanksgiving.
“That was such a good, positive experience,” Sackitey said. “That’s where the idea was solidified as like we need to do this, I need to do this going forward wherever I’m at. I want to do more than just basketball.”
On December 10, the team volunteered with Philadelphia Youth Basketball’s Middle School Partnership Program, a non-profit organization that helps to bring the community together via basketball.
According to senior Levi John, the team had a “pretty fun” day coaching basketball to younger students and helping them improve their skills.
“[It was] an interesting experience,” senior Nathan Hemsing said. “Just going to a place I’ve never been before [with] a different environment and different school.”
According to Sackitey, part of the importance for volunteering for the players is “to understand our core values” and “the significance of living the core values.”
“It’s important to give [players] experiences outside of just basketball,” Sackitey said. “There’s so many great opportunities to get involved and make the world a better place and provide some joy and positive energy for others.”
The team also prioritizes building meaningful relationships with each other, both on and off the court.
According to senior James Blair, the team “plays well together” and has good “team chemistry.”
“We all get along so well,” Hemsing said. “We’re all friends outside of basketball.”
According to Sackitey, it is necessary for a strong team to “get to know each other as people first and as more than just basketball players.”
“I think those relationships and that trust, that resilience and that togetherness shows up on the court,” Sackitey said. “I think those things show up on the court in close games when we’re talking to each other, we’re encouraging each other, we’re happy to see the team doing well [and] we’re putting the team’s needs over our own.”
The team also tries to pass down the importance of these core values to the junior varsity and freshman teams.
“We push them to be the best,” Hemsing said. “We push them to practice and stuff. We make sure they’re not taking plays off or anything.”