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Rivalry rekindled: BSAA hopes to unify Bremerton
When Jim Portune talks about Bremerton, he talks about unity.
He talks about how the rivalry between the former East and West High schools in Bremerton during the late 1950s to late 80s divided a community, yet brought it together.
He talks about how his brainchild, the Bremerton Student & Alumni Association, will bring people together. He talks about the BSAA fundraising student-alumni basketball game, planned for December, and he gets excited.
“We realized that we needed to find some way to reconnect the alumni with the school,” Portune said of launching BSAA in January. “There was a great need at Bremerton High School, in a sense, to have an organization that could encompass everything at Bremerton. Not just sports; it could include band, chess club, theatre, everything.”
BSAA is designed to reconnect Bremerton alumni with current students, the school and community, but also to assist students “in their journey to adulthood” via mentorship, friendship, education, training and financial support.
With various programs such as a coaches club, student-athlete mentorship program and various membership levels, Portune would like to see more alumni get involved with the program.
The association’s student-athlete mentorship program provides student-athletes the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, without the financial burden, while also encouraging mentors to become actively involved in extracurricular activities.
“The vision of the Bremerton Student & Alumni Association is to produce well-rounded graduates who are striving to reach their potential and are leaders in their home, school, community and workplace,” Portune said. “We want to give kids the opportunity to do the extracurricular activities.”
Portune established the coaches club for three reasons: to provide BSAA members an opportunity to meet with the head coach on a weekly basis in open forum throughout the duration of the sports season; foster positive communication and interaction between the individual and coaching staffs and BSAA members; and provide members with a chance to assist in the success of Bremerton athletic programs. The cost is $150 or $20 per meeting.
“Today, in the modern world, you can’t hide anything anymore. So why fight it?” Portune said. “Let’s make a system, in a sense, where you can have access, talk to the coach ...”
BSAA hosted a football coaches barbecue Aug. 1 in which high school, middle school and Pee Wee coaches from around Bremerton came together to simply talk football and share stories.
The event symbolized what BSAA is all about — the coming together of coaches and residents to better the landscape of Bremerton sports for the community’s young athletes.
“That’s what the BSAA is about — unity,” he said.