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A thrilling night on the court for St. Margaret hoopsters
BY MARY SADLIER, Special to Rhode Island Catholic

EAST PROVIDENCE — The St. Margaret Catholic Athletic League girls basketball team benefited from a special basketball practice last Wednesday when the girl’s team was led through skills and drills by Kate Lynch, head coach of the CCRI women’s basketball team.

Lynch was returning to the gym where she had played for the Saint Margaret basketball team 12 years ago.

“I was you once, I wore your uniform, and I played for Saint Margaret,” Lynch said as she started practice. “I loved my experience playing CYO basketball. I had great coaches, we worked hard and we had fun in a healthy environment.”

Saint Margaret head coach Steve Rosa, who first met Lynch when she was inaugurated into the Saint Margaret Hall of Fame in 2011, organized the special night. Rosa has also coordinated outings to see Lynch’s nationally ranked team play at CCRI’s Warwick campus.

“It was great to see the look on the girls' faces when they saw Kate and her entire college team enter the gym,” Rosa said. “I had told them Coach Kate was coming but not about the whole team joining us. It was intimidating for the girls at first but they soon warmed up. It's good to surprise the girls now and then to send a message that anything can happen in the gym and to be ready for anything.”

Lynch attended Saint Margaret School from kindergarten to grade 8, and remains a parishioner at St. Margaret Church. “It was nice to play basketball tonight with some of the same girls I see in church every Sunday,” she said.

Her devotion to basketball started when she was young.

“When I was your age, I played with my brothers at home, and in the winter, we used to boil water to melt the ice that was under the basketball net.”

Lynch also shared a story about her decision to run for Student Council at St. Margaret School just to lead the initiative to put up a basketball net in the schoolyard. There were many basketball players in her class, and with their support, along with Keith Burkett, and now-retired teacher Marie McHale, they met their goal. The basketball hoop hung by Burkett is still at the school.

Lynch continued her basketball career at La Salle Academy where she became an All-State and State Champion. At Southern Connecticut State University, Lynch was the school’s all-time leader in scoring. She was MVP of the 2007 Division II NCAA Tournament where her team won the Division II National Championship. In 2009, she was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Today, Lynch is head coach of Rhode Island's only nationally ranked basketball team.

The entire squad of Lady Knights participated in the practice providing one-on-one support to the young girls, with one player noting, “Coach is wonderful and sweet off the court. In the gym, she is tough; expects us to be prompt; and demands respect like any good coach.”

A parent observing the practice the night, Karen Sheil, said that seeing the college students volunteer their time to help our girls was wonderful, as it was for the young girls to play with college players, see their perseverance and to realize that it’s all about the fundamentals.

“At every stage of the game, you have to practice,” she said.

Rosa said it was a treat to be able to surprise his team members with a night of skills and drills led by some of the best players in the country.

“Fresh off beating the defending national champions, and in the midst of hectic school and basketball schedules, it was beyond kind of the CCRI team to take an interest in our team of 7th and 8th graders,” Rosa said.

“Kate is a hard worker, team player, and gracious enough to give back where she came from. It is no wonder Kate is the winner she is.”

Without a doubt