Fraser Arts Academy in the Woods’ Desmond Jones warms up before a game Jan. 24. This is the first season the school has had a basketball program.

Fraser Arts Academy in the Woods’ Desmond Jones warms up before a game Jan. 24. This is the first season the school has had a basketball program.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Basketball program started at Fraser charter school

By: Mark Vest | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 29, 2020

 Arts Academy’s Anthony Zampaglione brings the ball up the court in a game earlier this season. The program is headed by co-coaches Brett Guay and Aaron Stokes.

Arts Academy’s Anthony Zampaglione brings the ball up the court in a game earlier this season. The program is headed by co-coaches Brett Guay and Aaron Stokes.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FRASER — Last year, Brett Guay had an idea.

Guay is a digital arts teacher at Arts Academy in the Woods in Fraser, and his concept was to start club basketball.

As it turned out, there were some students who wanted to take Guay’s idea even further and have an organized team that competes against other schools.

After about 10 students came together, what was a concept turned into reality, and the academy now has a basketball team.

Along with parent-volunteer Aaron Stokes, Guay is the co-coach of the team.

“This is like kind of the berth of a new era for basketball,” Guay said. “I believe it’s the first basketball program that we’ve actually ever had.”

Although some struggles can be expected with a program in its first season of existence, the record book doesn’t have the final say on whether or not this season is a successful one.

“In my opinion, every game’s like a win,” Guay said. “Some of (them) never played organized basketball, and now they’re stepping on courts and playing for audiences on a high school platform. … For me — actually shared it with the other coach the other day — just seeing them leave with smiles, sweat, is really rewarding.”

Stokes considers the team’s lack of experience to be a positive.

“They’ve all come together with the coaching,” he said. “They’ve all improved, and we got a full-fledged team going now.”

Freshman Brayden Belanger has enjoyed playing for the Wildcats.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Belanger said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Junior Kevin Howard was in on the early stages of getting the team started, and it has turned into something even bigger than he expected.

“I’m actually kind of excited,” Howard said. “I didn’t really think it was going to get this far. I’m kind of glad we’re a team.”

While losses may be par for the course at this stage of the program, which plays a non-varsity schedule and all away games, the potential for what could be going forward is a different matter.

“We’re looking to develop, to become bigger competitors,” Guay said. “There’s some serious progress being made. I could see us possibly being competitors in the next few years. The kids, a lot of them have never played on a court in a game setting. So, I feel like the talent that we have, with experience, could really turn into something.”

The students on this season’s team could be rewarded with more than just helping to initiate a basketball program.

“Hard work pays off,” Guay said. “With a bit (of) ambition, initiation and drive, you can accomplish your dreams. … I’m thrilled. I feel that it’s really proof of what these kids can accomplish. I think they’re making great progress. I’m really happy to see the dedication.”

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