PHOENIX, Ore.– “Together We Rise.”
It’s the name of a non-profit that supports children in the foster care system. But for one local high school basketball team working with the non-profit – it’s also become a motto.
Whether they’re on the court or off it, the community is at the heart of the Phoenix High School boys basketball team.
“High schools are a big part of any community, especially ours,” said Nik Goff, a senior on the team. “So it just kind of helps give back to them what they give to us.”
On Saturday, the team decided to run a new play. Partnering with Together We Rise, the team helped to build bikes for local foster care youth.
“Basically give them a little sense of ownership that they have something they can take with them,” said Ethan Hutsell, a senior.
The idea originally came about after their coach Troy McNichols heard about the program. He brought it to the team several years ago and they all agreed it needed to be done.
“To learn how to give back to your community is a big deal,” said McNichols. “I think we just take it for granted. We’re always so used to just ‘getting’ that to learn how to give is something that’s got to be taught.”
Coach McNichols says the team even used part of their own funding to pay for the bikes. It’s in this way they can pay it forward to the community that supports them.
“We’re just always trying to bring each other together so that we work and do everything as a team or a community,” said Hutsell.
But it’s also a way for Coach McNichols to show his players that a team is stronger than an individual. It’s something he’s been teaching them for the last four years.
“I mean he’s been really helpful,” said Goff. “Definitely on the basketball side but also just helping us grow as people.”
One of Coach McNichols ways to describe teamwork is by referencing the power of the fist. He describes how each finger separate is weaker compared to when they form together to make a fist.
“The mantra has always been team,” he said. “It’s team from AAU to middle school basketball to administration. It’s all of us coming together and creating a program and creating a culture we can be proud of.”
And if nothing else, it’s a chance for these young players to learn that together they can make a difference.
After Saturday’s build, the team built 10 bikes that will be donated to local youth in the foster care system. Along with helping their community, the players are hoping to do them proud and bring home the conference title this season.