COVINGTON, Ga. – The Covington Family YMCA's basketball program is deep into its annual tournament.
16 basketball teams comprised of 153 boys and girls have been competing in five leagues since the beginning of the year. Each league includes players of similar age. The regular season ended Feb. 21. The tournament began shortly thereafter, with teams seeded based on win-loss records.
Championship games in each league will be played the first week in March.
The Y’s basketball program begins each December with three evenings devoted to evaluating players’ skills. Volunteer coaches then draft seven to 10 players for each team.
This year there are four teams of players six years old and younger, six teams with players age 6-8, four teams age 8-10, and six teams each age 10-12 and 12-14. Teams practiced the remainder of December and started competing in January.
“The purpose is development,” said Zach May, volunteer coach. “The Y stands out. It teaches kids the game of basketball. It’s not as intense and crazy as other places.”
Every parent, coach, referee, player and Y staff member interviewed agreed that the emphasis is on developing players’ basketball and teamwork skills within a supportive, encouraging and fun environment.
“I love doing this, I want to give kids opportunities,” volunteer coach Clarence Albert said. “I had one kid [who] did not want to play basketball. I worked with him individually. By the end of the season he loved playing and was scoring six to eight points a game.”
Ina Claggette, mother of six-and-under player Malachi Boireau, said, “Everyone plays. Everyone is personable and fair. The Y makes kids feel good about the game. He loves playing and loves being part of a team.”
Practice sessions were at the Newton County Theme School with games played at Flint Hill Elementary School.
“Since the Y does not have a gym, the Newton County School System makes our basketball program possible,” said YMCA sports director Janette Scharf. “We much appreciate their support.”
Donors to the YMCA’s Why It Matters campaign also help make the program possible. 38 or 25% of this year’s players are able to participate because of financial assistance received from the 2019 campaign.