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Kennedy student offers virtual basketball training by ‘coach-ial’ distancing

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As her sophomore year at John F. Kennedy High School draws to a close and her Sweet 16 birthday approaches, Sarah Klein is keeping busy and doing her part for the good of others during difficult times. While social distancing, she’s also “coach-ial” distancing to help young hoopsters develop their skills.

Inspired by her love of basketball, Klein hatched an idea to offer virtual training sessions for K-8 students while donating to a good cause. She isn’t accepting cash in exchange for her services, but rather raising money for Island Harvest Food Bank.

“I wanted to give back to the community and give kids a platform to develop their skills,” Klein said. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was four years old and have had great coaches. I’ve been thinking about all the kids missing out on getting the kind of coaching I did when I was growing up.”

Klein, who also plays soccer and lacrosse, earned a spot on the Lady Cougars’ varsity basketball roster this past winter as a shooting guard, and helped the team make a run to the Nassau County Class A semifinals. The south Merrick resident reached out to her teammates and coach, Mallory Palmieri, in April to notify them of her “coach-ial” distancing plan.

“Everyone thought it was great and they’ve got my back if this starts to get really busy,” Klein said. “So far I’ve been able to handle all the sessions on my own, but my teammates have been very supportive and are willing to help if needed.”

The program, which launched on May 12, helps develop kids’ skill sets through one-on-one Zoom sessions. Each 30-minute session focuses on dribbling and shooting exercises. “I’ve got a hoop setup on my driveway and everyone who’s done a session so far has also had one,” Klein said. “I’ve had a bunch of kids for more than one session and some have scheduled weekly sessions on the same day and time each week.”

In just over two weeks, Klein conducted 15 sessions and raised $400 for Island Harvest by accepting donations via Venmo (@coachial-distancing). She chose to contribute to Island Harvest after seeing a news report that showed a long line of people in need lined up outside the food bank.

“I’m happy with whatever someone can donate, and it’s been really great to see how kids have improved from session to session,” Klein said.

For more information, email sarahcoachialdistancing@gmail.com.