Hooping it up on Saturdays

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Messenger photos by Dedra Cordle
Colten Underwood (left), 5, looks for help from a teammate in the face of pressure from opponents during London Parks and Recreation youth basketball league action.

(Posted Dec. 27, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

From now until championship games take place in February, the sound of bouncing basketballs will reverberate in the London Community Center gym.

Another season of London Parks and Recreation youth basketball is in full swing. Boys and girls in kindergarten through sixth grade practice through the week and play games on Saturdays.

“Last year, we had 200 kids and 23 teams. This year, we have 205 kid and 26 teams with six divisions,” said Tammy Braskett, Parks and Rec director.

Braskett is trying something new this year. She split the younger girls into two divisions with kindergarteners and first graders in one division and second- and third-graders in another. Previously, all K-3 girls were in one division because lower turnout at this age made it difficult to field enough teams for multiple divisions. Braskett is pleased with the response to the split divisions.

“It works better for competitiveness. Girls just came pouring in on registration because of it,” she said.

On Saturdays, it’s spectators who coming pouring in, turning the community center into a Grand Central Station of sorts. They pay $1 admission to watch one or more of the 13 games that take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Players battle for a loose ball during a recent game between the Falcons and Dragons, two of 26 teams in the London Parks and Recreation youth basketball program.

“Between players, coaches and spectators, we have 800 people here on Saturdays,” Braskett said. “Add in practices through the week and we’re talking about 1,300 people weekly. It’s a big program.”

Information and organization are the keys to keeping everything running as smoothly as possible, Braskett said. Prior to the season, she sends out packets outlining dates for registration, tryouts, practices, and games. She relies almost exclusively on Facebook to communicate with the public before, during and after each season, across all sports.

As for basketball game days, Braskett keeps as strict a schedule as possible, not an easy task when wrangling 205 kids over the span of 13 games. She is mindful of families’ schedules and wants to keep games on time.

Even with her eye on a thousand moving parts, Braskett said she, like the spectators, can step back from the organized chaos and appreciate what the program means to the children.

“It’s a lot of fun watching it. They’re happy and just want to get in there and play,” she said.

For more about the basketball league and other upcoming programs, go to www.facebook.com/Londonparksandrec.org/.

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