Members of the Wildcats Indianapolis Homeschool basketball team enjoy the close-knit, athletic atmosphere, said Paul Settle, a Wildcats point guard and a junior in the homeschool program.
“We get guys from different parts of Indiana,” Settle said. “They really care and it’s not just an extracurricular activity to them.”
Before deciding 11 years ago to coach the Wildcats, Bialek
was Perry Meridian High School’s basketball coach.
“One of the most amazing differences between public school versus private school coaching is parent involvement,”
“I’ve never been on a team where the parents will suspend their kid for a week or more if their grades are not acceptable,” Bialek said.
With a basketball team consisting
of 45 players, ranging from 4th to 12th grade, Bialek notes that another difference between public and private school coaching is the lack of a permanent place for practices.
For the past four years, the Wildcats have used the gym at The Gathering Place at the Community Church of Greenwood.
Lack of a home base for athletes can be disheartening. But there’s also a positive side to the situation.
“Because our team is not a part of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, I love that I can work on a more individual basis that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Bialek said.
Three days weekly, players attend morning practices. This schedule, in place since summer, will continue until the season starts in October.
On those days when the team has nowhere to dribble, their coach expects them to do conditioning exercises at home. Since 1994, the Indianapolis Homeschool Wildcats team has lost to state champs during the Indiana Christian Basketball Association’s annual tournament.
Under Bialek’s guidance, strict focus, strategy and skill building techniques, team members stand for good sportsmanship and hope to change the misconception about a homeschooled team.
Last year, during the tournament, the Wildcats launched those goals with a 46-42 victory against the Northwest Warriors. After participating in the tournament three years in a row and then winning last season,
their coach sees a definite turning point in the team.
“It’s not about winning state titles. It’s about playing the right way,” Bialek said. “Players
are taught that winning or losing should not change their character and that winning is only the reward for the hard work achieved.”
At the beginning of each new basketball season, a number of public and private schools scratch game schedules
for unknown reasons. But the Wildcats don’t allow this to get them down. Instead, players
work even harder to prove their worth.
Fundraisers and community sponsors help the Wildcats stay in the game. Their biggest fundraiser is a Free-Throw-A-Thon, set for the first Saturday of the season. While making 100 shots at the basket, playersraise money through donations.
Registration to join the Wildcats team begins in late August. Homeschooled children in grades 4-12 will compete for Varsity, Junior Varsity, Junior High and the Junior Cats depending on age groups. Those who excel in tryouts may place in one group above their age level. Information: homeschoolwildcats.com.