A Sister’s Love Leads to a Celtics Makeover on Highridge Road
Aug 24, 2017 11:07AM
● By Kenneth Hamwey
The Reissfelder family proudly stands on its newly-installed basketball court. Shown (L-R): Aron Baynes, Michael Reissfelder Jr., Brianna Reissfelder, parents Michael Sr. and Melanie Reissfelder, Cedric Maxwell and Arbella Insurance rep. Kimberleigh O'Connell
Bellingham fans of the Boston Celtics converged on the Reissfelder family’s home at 9 Highridge Rd. on the morning of Aug. 22 to get an up-close and personal look at what a home-court makeover is all about.
Celtics’ legendary player Cedric Maxwell, who’s now part of the broadcast team on radio, and 6-foot-10 center Aron Baynes, acquired in the off-season during free agency, were on hand with the Celtics promotional staff and marketing specialists from Arbella Insurance to unveil a new outdoor basketball surface, a new hoop and a new ball rack for the family’s back yard.
All of the attention and all of the neighborhood buzz occurred because Brianna Reissfelder, one of Michael and Melanie’s three children, had won a contest that offered the makeover. Brianna, 13, an eighth-grader at Bellingham High, had noticed an on-line promotion that involved writing an essay or creating a video explaining why a home-court makeover was needed.
Brianna’s love, respect, and admiration for her brother (Michael Jr.) are what inspired her to enter the contest. She also was eager to give her brother a gift for a situation that had taken place two years ago.
“I saw the details of the contest online and decided to produce a video about why Mike deserved the makeover,’’ she said. “Two years ago, we attended a Celtics game as part of a group from the Bellingham Youth Basketball Association. At that game, I won a raffle that allowed me to go onto the court after the game and shoot hoops and mix in with Celtic officials. Mike wasn’t jealous or envious, but I knew he felt left out. I wanted to give something back to him and in the video I stressed why it would be significant if my brother received the makeover prize, and Mike talked about his love for basketball.’’
Mike, a junior at BHS and an outstanding student who ranks in the top five of his class, plays varsity basketball and baseball. Mike didn’t think his sister had won because weeks had passed and no news seemed like bad news. Brianna, however, got the good news in July and kept it a secret from her brother.
“I wanted to surprise him,’’ she said. “Mike found out, however, in early August, when people came out to begin installing the surface.
When the Celtics and Arbella officials, who sponsor the Celtics and partner with them in the home-court makeover contests, arrived on Aug. 22 for an hour-long celebration and basketball clinic at the Reissfelders’ home, Mike was humbled by the attention as he and his varsity teammates participated in drills and shooting exercises with Maxwell and Baynes.
“What Brianna did was wicked sweet,’’ he said. “It’s really special. She took time to produce the video and come up with the words. She put a lot of thought into the effort. She certainly made up for going onto the TD Garden court two years ago.’’
About 100 friends, fans and neighbors attended the event, which kicked off with Michael Sr. and Melanie welcoming the crowd to their home to view their re-constructed backyard. Baynes and Maxwell both noted how they would have loved to have had a setup like the one on display when they were teenagers. What followed for all the youths who attended were drills that included jumping, shooting, dribbling, passing and dunking.
During the festive occasion, two classy moves were made to add a personal touch to the day. Maxwell and Baynes used markers and autographed the backboard, and Celtics uniform shirts with the number one were presented to the entire family.
T.J. Chiappone, Bellingham High’s basketball coach, was on hand, expressing how special the event was, for both the family and the town. “It’s neat to have the Celtics come to Bellingham, and it’s also special for the Reissfelder family,’’ he said. “They’re wonderful people and their kids are great. For me, it also was a thrill to meet Cedric Maxwell because I saw him when he played.’’
Maxwell and Baynes took time to answer questions about the Celtics’ future, especially how they might fare this season. “We’ll have a good chance to again finish with the best record in the conference,’’ said Maxwell, who was the MVP of the NBA championship finals in 1981.
Baynes, who hails from Australia, previously played for the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons. He was optimistic about joining a new squad and meshing into coach Brad Stevens’ revamped lineup. “Brad will get us to where we need to be,’’ Baynes said. “I’m excited to be on a team that has high expectations and one that will contend for an NBA title. Today, in Bellingham, has been a great experience, a time for family and fun.’’
Baynes summed up the celebration nicely, but perhaps it was Brianna and Mike’s mother who put the day and the event in perspective. “Brianna loves her brother and she wanted to make him happy,’’ Melanie said.