The W.T. White High School boys’ varsity basketball team made it to the playoffs this year, but that wasn’t really the highlight of the season.

At least that’s how coach Craig Bankhead sees it.

“Basketball isn’t just about what happens between the lines – it’s also about what you do off the court,” he says.

And his team has been doing big things off the court. The team recently became the first ever recipient of Dallas ISD’s Outstanding Youth Organization Partner award.

The boys were awarded after volunteering for two years every week at Nathan Adams Elementary School, tutoring kids, shelving books in the library, or just grading papers for teachers.

“Whatever they needed us to do, we jumped on it and made sure it got done,” he says. “And the kids literally and figuratively look up to my players, and I know they really relished being positive role models.”

Nathan Adams Elementary Principal Jean McGill can attest to what good role models these young men have been. After all, she’s the one who nominated them for the award.

“I have to be honest, at first I was hesitant to let teenage basketball players come volunteer here, “And the first time the team came here, I talked to them about being role models, and I told them they’d have to pull up those pants – and they did. They were always well groomed, polite, and they showed up consistently for two years. That’s why I nominated them – I wanted someone outside of this school to know what a difference these teenagers were making here in our community.”

McGill also has nothing but praise for fellow teacher and coach Bankhead.

“As soon as he started coaching at W.T. White, he called me and orchestrated this entire volunteer project. “He’s helped these teenagers become real standup young men by leading with example.”

Bankhead says this award is just the start of a team tradition.

“I want to continue to volunteer at Nathan Adams, and I’m also looking for other outlets where my team can help the community,” he says. “Right now, I’m just on cloud nine: I couldn’t be any prouder of my guys.”

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.