Registration opens soon for YMCA basketball

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time is flying by, and the YMCA’s fall youth sports seem to be flying with it.

Though there are several weeks of football and flag football left, registration for YMCA basketball begins Monday, said program director Allison East.

“Everything seems to move really quickly this time of year,” East said. “We’re gearing up for basketball now, which is a program for boys and girls from third to eighth grade.”

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East said their basketball program has six different leagues separated by age and gender.

“We have Jr. Prep, which is third and fourth grade, Sr. Prep, which is fifth and sixth grade and Jr. High, which is seventh and eighth grade,” she said. “The players who register early enough get to represent their school, so that’s something a lot of the kids look forward to.”

East said there are many benefits of playing YMCA basketball other than just school pride.

“Any youth sport gives the kids something to work hard for,” she said. “Every player plays at least half of a game, and they all get the opportunity to learn basic basketball fundamentals and what it means to be a team player. We really try to focus on good sportsmanship. We’re a non-competitive league.”

Kids Play USA, an organization encouraging kids to get active, echoed East’s comments about the benefits of playing youth sports.

According to their website, “Because sports increase an awareness of one’s body and how it responds to different stimuli and circumstances, sports help prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Most athletes value what their bodies can do and want to maintain those abilities. Being an athlete also gives kids an acceptable reason for telling their friends no to drugs, booze, and other high-risk, unhealthy behavior.”

The organization also wrote that there are numerous other physical, behavioral and societal benefits of getting involved in sports.

East said she tries to align all youth sports programs with the YMCA mission statement: helping all people reach their God-given potential in spirit, mind and body.

“We say our player’s prayer before every game, and we encourage positive attitudes,” she said. “Many of the coaches hold players accountable for their grades and behavior in school, and I think that’s a great lesson. They get the realization early that messing up in school has consequences they won’t like.”

The YMCA youth sport programs are all-inclusive, East said.

“We want everybody to play,” she said. “We want every kid to be in and out of our YMCA learning basketball and learning sportsmanship. If your kid is a problem child in school, we’ll take him. If your child has a disability, we’ll take her. We just want everyone to be a part of it.”

East said one way they try to broaden involvement is by offering scholarships.

“Basketball is $40 for members and $80 for non-members, so we know that can be hard for a lot of people, especially those with more than one child,” she said. “We have financial assistance applications that can be filled out until Oct. 27, and we really do try to make all of our programs as accessible as possible.”

Registration for basketball begins Oct. 5 and ends Nov. 3. For those interested in coaching or playing, call the Vicksburg YMCA at 601-638-1071 or email for any questions.