This elite squad is all about books and ball
Long before Walter Welsh founded one of the premier girls AAU programs in the country, he could be spotted in gyms across NYC working with the youth. His first program called “The Miccio -Excel Basketball Program for boys and girls”, would go on to merge with the legendary Gaucho’s squad and form the first lady Gauchos team. The program which was initially ran out of the Red Hook PAL in Brooklyn, often crossed paths with a young Carmelo Anthony who attended an after school program in gym. Welsh found success and a sense of purpose as a coach, but eventually wanted a squad to call his own. “I wanted to start my own program with a direction that aligned with my own vision for the girls we served,” He says. “I expanded on the EXCEL name and we became the iEXCEL girls basketball and education program.” The program features a who’s who of elite basketball recruits across the city but what’s even more impressive is it’s track record outside the lines.
“I wanted to start my own program with a direction that aligned with my own vision for the girls.”
Welsh stresses that his girls are just as committed to the classroom and being an upstanding citizen as they are on the court, with a combination of SAT prep classes and community service. The result is 95% of the iExcel student athletes receiving athletic scholarships each year. “We train and develop our young people to be well rounded young ladies who understand that their future is as bright as they want it to be,” Welsh says. “We teach them that sacrifice and preparation is the key to finding success not just on the basketball court but in life.” Coach Welsh’s most rewarding moments consist of the yearly tradition of his girls picking their schools. The program has put out prospects such as Jocelyn Willoughby who attended the University of Virginia, Desiree Elmore of Syracuse, and Tiana England from St Johns. They have helped produce 4 National Gatorade player’s of the year and a number of pro ballers, along with producing pros in other fields such as doctors, teachers and more.
“The iEXCEL program is hoping to grow within the next 3 years.”
As far as what’s next for this elite program, expect more chips, more offers and more buckets. But also, expect for the program to expand. “We would like to be able to impact a larger group of young ladies who can take the information we provide and use it to build their confidence and self esteem and carry that strength they learned on the basketball court to the world at large,” Says Welsh. The iEXCEL program is hoping to grow within the next 3 years and double the number of young people that they service. After putting a jaw dropping 7 student athletes into college last year with scholarships, an expansion would only be beneficial to the community and the culture. The growth would take funding, but Welsh is confident that things will eventually come into place for him and his program. Until then, expect to see him on the sidelines, coaching his girls through the game, and through life.