Youth Basketball Programs Continue To Gain Momentum

HITS AND MISSES

December 26, 1990|By Mike Nortrup

Early this year we reported on the New Windsor Rec Council's newly formed in-house youth basketball program.

Now, as 1990 ends, we again look to the northwestern reaches of Carroll County and see that rec basketball is really starting to take off there.

First, New Windsor has returned to the Carroll County Girls Basketball League after an absence of several years, placing one squad in the league's junior division for 9- to 11-year-olds and another in its senior division for girls 12 to 15.

New Windsor's re-entry is only part of an astounding growth spurt, which has seen the county girls traveling league jump from 22 teams last season to 30 now.

Two new teams represent Winfield, three come from Westminster and one from St. John's Church.

The revival of girls traveling basketball in New Windsor is probably due, at least in part, to the continuing success of its in-house league for boys and girls.

That program, which is actually housed in Union Bridge at Elmer Wolfe Elementary with a small portion also operating at New Windsor Middle School, is expanding in its second year.

Jeff Merson, who coordinates the program's first- through fourth-grade divisions, said registration has risen from 64 players last year to 71 this season, despite the loss of about 25 youngsters to New Windsor's boys and girls traveling squads.

He noted that many of the new registrants are first- or second-graders who will be with the program for a long time.

"We can really concentrate on them, then feed the travel teams and eventually Francis Scott Key high," Merson said.

Taneytown is trying to duplicate New Windsor's success, but is finding rough going.

This year, the Taneytown Rec Council decided to take the plunge and organize basketball for fifth- through eighth-grade girls.

Things started out well, with interest among girls in that age group beyond the wildest expectations of local rec officials.

Rec council community coordinator Bob Broderick, who operates the league, said he expected 30 players at most.

Now he has 55 and is still taking sign-ups.

"I never knew girls were so interested in basketball," he said.

Broderick credited much of the success in attracting players to Key girls jayvee basketball coach Denny Snyder, who helped greatly with registration.

Broderick plans a six-team division and wants to start a 10-game schedule in early January. He also wants a postseason tournament for the league, which would hold its practices and games at Northwest Middle School in Taneytown.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the whole thing will fall through, unless Broderick can find coaches for the six teams by Jan. 4.

He said that only three teams now have coaches and that one of those volunteers may quit. He attributed the problem at least partly to the program's 5 to 7:30 p.m. time slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"It's 6:30 or 7:00 before a lot of people up here get home from work," he explained.

The rec official added that many parents aren't around to take their youngsters to the school and said many of the girls have to walk there.

Since only about seven or eight parents come into the school, Broderick said, he has little chance to meet them or talk to them about helping.

As a result, he and the few available volunteers have spread themselves too thinly in trying to instill the basics of the game into more than 50 girls, a chore that has taken "five or six years off of my life," Broderick said with a laugh.

"No actual teams have been formed because the coaches aren't there," he said.

Men, women or mature high-schoolers are badly needed to help on the coaching lines. They needn't be hoops experts, only willing to help, he said.

Broderick, a retiree, said he will handle the administrative and logistical chores.

"All they have to do is coach. A clipboard is all they need," he said.

I have a thought on this, too.

Maybe mother-father teams could handle coaching jobs in shifts.

Mom could bring the girl to the gym and get things started, and dad could take over when he gets home from work.

Just a suggestion.

In any event they need only three or four more volunteers to keep this program alive.

I hope they can get them.

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