Hoop it up
Youth basketball leagues to collaborate
Despite watching countless basketball games, Richie Hester and Derrick Dorn are both excited about the changes in store this season for youth basketball in Franklin County.
That's because Hester, administrator for the Franklin County Youth Basketball League, and Dorn, athletic coordinator for the Russellville Parks and Recreation Department, have teamed up to provide more opportunities for local youth basketball players.
The Russellville league, which is holding late registration this week, will join the FCYBO this year while still playing its own league schedule. For the first time, Russellville players will compete in the FCYBO tip-off jamboree Jan. 7 at Vina and the FCYBO championship tournament Feb. 26-28 at Belgreen.
Last year Russellville fielded 13 teams with approximately 91 players and will include girls and boys divisions this season for 8-and-under, 10-and-under and 12-and-under, plus possible divisions for 14-and-under boys and girls.
Last March Russellville sent three all-star teams to the Alabama Parks and Recreation district tournament, where the 10-and-under boys and 12-and-under girls each won district titles and advanced to the ARPA state tournament.
"We just wanted to get better competition because our numbers have been kind of low, and we want to step out and play better competition," said Dorn, who has coordinated youth basketball for Russellville since 2003. "We wanted to get a different feel and expose our rec league to more sign-ups because it gets boring sometimes when the same two teams are playing each other throughout the season.
"Another reason we wanted to get into the county league is because of the competition level we saw at the state tournament – cities like Mobile and Opelika live to play basketball every day, like (Russellville) does with our baseball and football teams. If we get in the FCYBO, we can get exposed to better competition."
The FCYBO, which was formed in 2006, is comprised of five independent school leagues at Belgreen, Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Tharptown and Vina. There are seven divisions, including 5-6 year-old co-ed and boys and girls 8-and-under, 10-and-under and 12-and-under.
"When we created the FCYBO, the main emphasis three years ago was to keep it local, put everyone on the same set of rules with certified officials and (to avoid) schedule conflicts," said Hester. "When we started this league, we had 30-something teams and over 250 kids, and last year we had 48 teams with over
"This season I'm expecting possibly 55-60 teams and probably over 500 kids."
Hester said both leagues should benefit from expanding the FCYBO to include the Russellville Parks and Recreation teams.
"I see where it can benefit Russellville because it brings them into an organized league and gives them more competition, and maybe it gets more kids involved," Hester said. "As far as us, we had an odd number of teams, and now we have an even number of teams. And we'll be giving the kids in the county the opportunity to play in the district and state tournaments.
"I have worked with Derrick and Chad (Sears) on trying to bring this together, and we've got other people in the county who have went along with this. This is something we were all in favor for growing (basketball) because each community brings so much into this. I think this will be a good deal, and I can't hardly wait to see how things will work out this season."
Dorn said he was also looking forward to this season.
"I'm very excited just to get out and play and see our kids play," he said. "I was an athlete, and I love to see kids compete and this way we can play better competition."