Handball coach mentors at-risk youth in Tucson - Tucson News Now

Handball coach mentors at-risk youth in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Tucson man is using a unique sport to help keep kids off the streets and away from trouble.

Fred Lewis has been coaching youth handball at the Fred Lewis Foundation for Youth Handball for 17 years.

"We're taking it to bigger and bigger heights, bigger and better than we've ever done before," Lewis said.

The non-profit group has offered youth handball to the community for nearly two decades in Tucson, where many of its 50 members are at-risk youth, according to Lewis.

"The original kids that came into the program resided in the Puerto Gardens neighborhood in South Tucson," Lewis said.

Abraham Montijo was among the early club members and has today been a co-pilot of sorts, to help coach kids in the Fred Lewis Foundation.

Montijo discovered handball when he was a freshman in high school and has since won several tournaments. His most recent ventures have been mentoring youth at KidCo at the Freedom Recreation Center.

"I got some players to start playing, and pretty soon we're going to have a whole new generation and that's what this game needs," Montijo said.

Kids like Jesus and Cesar Pimentel are among that new generation. They are among six brothers who have also stayed away from trouble thanks to Lewis' foundation.

"He helps all my brothers get off the street and actually do something with our lives," Cesar Pimentel said.

Lewis has a grown son but now spends his time mentoring and coaching kids who are part of the club, which enforces rules.

"We have a very low tolerance for bad behavior, and they know that. They know that if they want to get the rewards that the program provides, they have to be good citizens and they have to be respectful," Lewis said.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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