Special to South Florida Times
DELRAY BEACH — Flying high on adrenaline, Coach Marquell Bernard leaps several feet in the air during a very close recent championship game.
The Delray Beach Youth Basketball League’s finalists, Bernard’s East All Stars and the Bulls, battled it out at the Village Academy.
Delray Beach Athletic Director Tom Kwiatek said getting the players pumped is part of the excitement of the playoffs.
“It’s the playoff action. You try to get the kids pumped up. You are pumped up. It’s somewhat animated,” Kwiatek said.
Bernard said working with the 10-to-12-year-old players and watching them learn gets him inspired.
“This is my first year coaching and getting the kids to execute the game plan (is exciting),” he said. “By practicing, they learn the plan. It’s not just me coaching; they give me input also.”
Bernard, 22, attends Palm Beach State College and is majoring in education because he wants to be a high school football coach.
The 6’ 1” 2008 West Boca High graduate says he loves sports and working with the kids in Delray Beach is a good way to get experience in this field.
“They enjoy when I interact with them. I practice with them sometimes. We go out and do stuff together,” Bernard said.
“It’s more than just a basketball team. We’re like a real team.”
Bernard’s East All Stars beat eight other teams to get to the championship game but fell to the Bulls 23-21, their third consecutive loss to their archrival.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the loss. We did everything right. Those boys played their hearts out,” he said. “This is our first year together. We beat all of the other teams. We just couldn’t get over this hump.”
The Delray Beach Youth Basketball League, which is an in-house league, has over 200 players, according to Kwiatek.
All the coaches are volunteers and the league is in need of qualified applicants.
Kwiatek said Bernard’s enthusiasm for the children and the game is just what one would look for in a coach.
“A coach working hard for the kids is what you want to see,” he said.
Parents think the league is well run and a service for the community and that’s why they keep coming back, Kwiatek said.
Registration for the league begins in November and play runs from January through March of 2013.
Bernard said he plans to coach next year and there will be another showdown against the Bulls but with different results.
“We’ll get them next year,” he said.
For more information, call Tom Kwiatek at (561) 243-7255 or send an email to: kwiatek@ mydelraybeach.com. Kyoto Walker may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: ALAN LUBY/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
ON ADRENALINE: Marquell Bernard, coach of the All-Stars, is all fired up during the second half of a recent Delray Beach Youth Basketball League 10-12 age division championship game at Village Academy in Delray Beach.