EMU women's basketball team staging clinic for Newtown children

Jan 30, 2013, 10:00 ET from Eastern Michigan University

YPSILANTI, Mich., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tory Verdi, women's basketball coach at Eastern Michigan University, was born and raised in Connecticut. His first coaching experiences came at Western Connecticut University and Pomperaug High School in Southbury, located 10 miles from Newtown.

On December 14, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown sparked the desire to help the community however possible.

In response, Verdi and his team (see video) will stage an afternoon of basketball instruction and activities for youngsters in Newtown on Feb. 10.

The team will work with the Newtown Youth Basketball Association to stage the "Smiles & Basketball" clinic, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Newtown High School.

Students from kindergarten through eighth grade will enjoy three hours of basketball and an hour of entertainment for two groups, kindergarten through third grade and fourth through eighth. A carnival area will offer games, arts and crafts, face painting, a balloonist and clowns, food and prizes.

"Like the rest of the world, we feel strongly about reaching out to the community and providing comfort and assistance," Verdi says. "As a father of three, I couldn't imagine the everlasting devastation these families endure.

"As a coach, I reinforce social responsibility and citizenship daily in our players. 'Smiles and Basketball' is one way our team, school and community can unite and provide something positive out of this horrific experience."

EMU President Susan Martin said, "Eastern is known for community engagement, for students volunteering thousands of hours to improve others' lives. I am proud of our team for taking the time during the season to show their love for the children in Newtown."

David Hamula, vice president of the Newtown Youth Basketball Association, said, "Having the team take time from defending their MAC title – sharing time, running drills and just being with the kids, says a lot about Coach Verdi, the women and the school."

Verdi, 40, was named coach April 26. Before that, he was an assistant at the University of Kansas. He was born in New Britain, Conn., earning his bachelor's in education from Keene State College in New Hampshire.

To register, visit www.Newtownyouthbasketball.com

Visit https://www.emufoundation.org/index.php/public-give.html to provide a tax-deductible gift to help the team make this trip. Checks to EMU Women's Basketball, with NEWTOWN in the memo line, can be sent to EMU Athletics Development, 799 Hewitt Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

SOURCE Eastern Michigan University