Basketball keeps bouncing

Harundale youth league finds that its spring program, set to resume in 2 weeks, is increasingly popular

March 22, 2006|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Harundale Youth Sports League already runs a popular winter basketball program. But Rudy Brown, the organization's treasurer and a coach, was among those who noticed something interesting two years ago: The kids wanted to keep playing in the spring.

So the league decided to do something a little different, starting a spring basketball league, at a time usually reserved for baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer. Since its launch in 2004, the youth spring basketball league has nearly doubled in size and is gearing up to start another season in about two weeks.

"The kids just wanted to keep playing basketball," Brown said. "The kids wanted a more structured thing than just tournaments."

Brown said the HYSL started the spring programs in a very simple way, by talking to coaches and parents and players. Officials could see there was interest but weren't sure what would happen if they tried to start a league.

"We started it by word of mouth and with no ads," Brown said. "They just got the word out."

The first year saw a total of 12 teams playing. Interest increased in 2005 with 20 teams signing up overall. Brown said HYSL officials are hoping to get 20 teams again this spring.

"We're happy with 20 teams," Brown said. "We don't want to get too big because we have kids playing multiple sports, and scheduling becomes a nightmare."

The program is split into two divisions and open only to boys this spring, although he said the league would like to put together a girls program. This spring's program will run from the first week in April through the early part of June, a total of 10 games. The games are expected to be held one day a week, with practices at least once a week, all taking place at Corkran Middle School.

Brown said HYSL officials know they have to work around the fact that many of the children play other sports in the spring.

Typically, the league draws much of its population from those who play in the winter.

"The more you play, the better you get," said Brown. "These are the real basketball players."

Bob Brandenburger, a sports supervisor for Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, which runs no spring basketball programs, said he agreed there is a place for a program such as the HYSL's.

"The kids like playing basketball, and if it doesn't interfere with an in-season sport, then it's more of an opportunity for them to play," Brandenburger said.

Also this spring, the HYSL will run leagues in baseball, softball and soccer, all of which play at Corkran Middle School. Brown said that soccer has taken off in recent years, and that he expects more than 500 children to play this spring.

Baseball sign-up

The weather has been more suited to football in recent days, but the sign-up for baseball will be taking place tomorrow. The Anne Arundel County Youth Baseball program's registration is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Recreation and Parks headquarters, 1 Harry Truman Parkway, Annapolis.

There also will be a meeting at the registration. Players can sign up for one of three leagues: 10 and under, 12 and under or 14 and under. Games are scheduled to begin April 22 at fields throughout the area. Practices should start in the coming weeks.

For information, call 410-222-7865 or visit www.aacounty.org/recparks.

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