There’s a new youth basketball program in the Gray area, and it’s not only been a success for participants, but it’s helping the community throughout the season as well.
Boone Ballerz has replaced the now defunct Boone Hoops youth league that functioned in the Gray area for years and served as a feeder program for Daniel Boone High School. Last year Boone Hoops had 22 teams before disbanding. This year the number has increased to 31 basketball teams and six cheer teams for Boone Ballerz with nearly 400 kids involved in the program.
League president Karen Jenkins attributes the increase in participation to several improvements to the process. With a website and a Facebook group in place, Jenkins said the lines of communication between parents, coaches and board members are open, and the feedback has already led to common-sense changes that have made for a better experience.
“In years past, there was only in-person signups, and if you weren’t able to make it your child didn’t get to play,” Jenkins said. “This year we had two in-person signups, but we also allowed parents to mail in their registrations as well as register online. Overwhelmingly, most chose the online option for its convenience and I think that really helped our numbers.”
By increasing the cost of admission from $1 to $2, the new league has been able to increase what it pays referees. Jenkins said that has greatly improved the experience for all involved.
“We now have many certified refs as well as a couple of high school players refereeing, and both are doing a really great job,” Jenkins said. “That’s something I hear every weekend is how well the refs are doing.”
And while the name of the game is basketball, Jenkins says the board feels strongly that the league should be about more than just sports. During the month of December, the league collected food for the Gray Community Chest. Next month the project is collecting blankets and items for the Washington County Animal Shelter.
“We wanted Boone Ballerz to be a part of the community,” Jenkins said. “Because in reality, only a handful of these kids will still be playing at the high school level. We want them to remember the fun of being on a team, having a positive experience and doing something that helped their community. So each month we are doing a Boone Ballerz Benevolence project.”
Jenkins says she and others on the board have put in hundreds of hours to get the league started, and feels it’s being done correctly so they can pass the leadership baton to others in the future.
“We just mailed in our paperwork for incorporation and are working on our 501c3 status,” she said. “These things are being done so that everything is on the up and up and it’s something where we can elect a different board in the future and it will be a seamless transition and the organization will last for years to come.”
To learn more about Boone Ballerz, visit the website at www.booneballerz.org or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BooneBallerz/.