Basketball has always played a big role in Paul Staubi's life, from grade school in Hawthorne, N.Y., through his collegiate career at Lafayette. When he graduated, he dreamed of passing that passion on to others. And now he's doing just that through an elite hoop program with the funny name of Frenji.
That's a nickname for Benjamin Carter, who has partnered with Staubi to make team Frenji a success on the national AAU basketball stage in less than 10 years.
"We met at a clinic, and connected over a vision to create a program to develop kids both as basketball players and as strong students and citizens," said Staubi. "I know that basketball helped me get into good academic institutions and become the person I am today."
Staubi and Benjamin took a group of youngsters and nurtured them, on and off the court, from their middle school days. It paid off last year when the team won the LeBron James Classic for under-15 year-olds in Chicago and placed ninth in the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas. As the Frenji players progress into high school, they're making their mark locally, too. "Last year, there were four freshmen in Westchester County who were starters, and three of them were ours," said Staubi.
"We have two goals, centered on development," he said. "We want to create good kids and good basketball players basically, terrific student-athletes, in the real sense of the word. We get involved in their lives to make sure they're excelling in the classroom as well as on the court.
"It's an intense program, for people who want to play in college," Staubi said. "It's not for everyone." Those who survive the initial tryouts and "Frenji Boot Camp" practice two or three nights a week at SUNY-Purchase from March through July. "The practices are short, just one-and-a-half hours, but we practice really hard," said Staubi. There's also a lot of traveling on weekends to tournaments. "We go up and down the East Coast," as well as travel farther west during the summer.
Spending all that time together creates something special that goes beyond basketball. "These kids come from all different backgrounds, but they've developed a bond that makes them like family," said Staubi. "They've made friends they'll keep for life."
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