League stirs their hoop dreams

County adult teams draw many who never lost their zeal for the hardwood

December 19, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

Basketball was a big part of Greg Skipper's life while in school, and it has continued that way since he graduated from college.

Skipper played junior varsity and varsity basketball at Glen Burnie High School. After graduating from college, the 27-year old, who works in online advertising, began playing in the Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks' adult basketball league. He just began his fourth year.

Skipper's team, called the Pork Chop Express - the name comes from a truck in the Kurt Russell movie Big Trouble in Little China - split its first four games this winter. Members play in the Tuesday-Thursday unlimited (in terms of age) league, in which games take place once or twice a week.

The Pork Chop Express occasionally practices on its own at local schools.

"We have a hodgepodge of people on the team," Skipper said. "We've played every year since we've graduated college as we all went to different colleges and kind of showed back up at home [because] we were all looking for a place to play basketball."

Skipper said there are about 10 players on the team for each game. The players are familiar with each other because they've practiced and played together for a while.

"All of these guys on the team are my friends from somewhere," Skipper said.

But this group stays busy on the court throughout the year. Skipper said that Express team members remain together during the year and wind up participating in about 70 games.

That doesn't count the practices they all gather for on a regular basis. Basketball is important to them in different ways. For example, Brian Kellner is the assistant coach of the Glen Burnie boys' basketball team during the week.

Kellner is a math teacher at North County and a former player on the Glen Burnie team. Those on Pork Chop are similar to players on other teams - it's a bunch of friends who know each other on the court and off.

"It's the only hour of the week where I don't think about anything," Skipper said with a laugh. "I'm probably the most easily stressed-out person that I know. For that hour, it's just the best hour of the week."

Keith Bryant plays point guard for the B-ballers team in the same Tuesday-Thursday league and competes for similar reasons.

He competed for DuVal High in Prince George's County, and the 26-year old loves to be on the court. Bryant also plays semi-professional football in Clinton.

"My game's always getting better," Bryant said. "It's a lot of fun, and I still like to play the game."

Richard Ward is from Mayo in Anne Arundel County and helps run a team in the Wednesday unlimited league for adults. The 22-year old played for the South River High School team and is finishing his education at the University of Maryland.

This is Ward's first year in the Anne Arundel league, and he's glad to get back on the court.

"I always played basketball while growing up, through recreation ball and in high school," Ward said. "I just enjoy the game again."

Ward said he had previously filled in on a basketball team in Annapolis that his uncle ran. But everything changed this year.

"A bunch of my friends [got together] and they wanted to play," Ward said. "We just happened to look at it, and it's just good to get out there and play."

The 5-foot-11-inch Ward is playing forward this season, just as he did for South River in high school. But basketball faded a little when Ward went to Roanoke, Va., during his early college days.

Ward spent much of his time in Roanoke playing lacrosse. He served as a face-off midfielder as the Virginia-based school made it to the Division III national semifinal, losing once to powerhouse Salisbury University.

But transferring to Maryland opened the door for Ward to return to the basketball court.

"Hey, if it wasn't fun, then I wouldn't do it," Ward said. "It's nice to get out there once again."

Skipper agreed with Ward about just getting onto the court for enjoyment and playing with friends.

The players on Skipper's team grow closer through each game and practice.

Skipper sends out e-mails on a regular basis to remind his teammates about the time and date of upcoming games, along with a brief recap about what happened the week before.

"This is a team [we are] really happy with," Skipper said. "We're really close."

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