Approximately 500 students participate in the West Hartford YMCA Winter Youth Basketball program.
Winter Youth Basketball at the YMCA celebrated Opening Day on Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Saint Thomas Seminary and Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford. Kids, age 3 to grade 7 arrived, got their t-shirts, met their new teams and coaches, and began to enjoy basketball, YMCA-style.
The YMCA Youth Basketball League curriculum is based on the YMCA’s “Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins!” philosophy. No matter what your child’s age or ability, he or she gets to play and participate fully. In addition to basketball skills and drills, the children learn character values and sportsmanship. Coaches, many of whom are volunteers, emphasize teamwork and cooperation, providing opportunities for all players to both contribute their particular gifts while learning to appreciate and celebrate the gifts of their teammates and their opponents. Everyone has fun. At the YMCA, we emphasize the development of character – caring, honesty, respect and responsibility; qualities that are as important off the court as on the court.
Dozens of parents and other community volunteers contribute their time and talents to help coach and mentor the participants. Some coaches volunteer with the Y from when their first child starts participating until the last has aged out of the program. Some coach more than one sport. Some even continue on after their children have moved on and some children who see their parents and friends’ parents coach will grow up to become volunteer coaches themselves.
Coaches love the program as much of as the kids. Coach Dan LaBreck tells us that “being a coach in a YMCA program has been very rewarding. Knowing you are making a positive impact on a child’s life and seeing the smile on their face makes me want to come back year after year.”
Coach Scott Muska’s advice for parents who are hesitant to coach is, “Just try it!” He showed us how he uses his sense of humor and patience to demonstrate to his first and second grade “Dribblers” all about boxing out the opponent to protect the ball. They got it! He told us that one reason he signed up for a second year was so he could spend time with his son and daughter.
Community sponsors are an important part of the program, too. Sponsors are rewarded by seeing their business name on the team shirts and the smiles on the children’s faces who wear them. Some folks who work at these businesses also coach. Businesses that support the basketball program include:
- Hoffman Auto Group
- State Farm Agent Jeff Brand
- The Lollipop Tree
- L&M Paving
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
“Hoffman Auto Group is committed to partnering with the YMCA of Greater Hartford in support of the youth sports league. We share in their commitment to help people of all ages to develop to their fullest potential,” states Matthew Hoffman, vice president and dealer principal, Hoffman Auto Group. Hoffman continued, “As a resident of West Hartford, my family is personally involved in the programs and services of the West Hartford YMCA a Branch of the Greater Hartford YMCA. It is a pleasure to see my daughters thrive in the athletic program along with other children in the community.”
The league takes place every January-February and serve about 500 kids. There are six different age groups, two of which have separate all-girls divisions.
For information about this program or any of the YMCA’s other programs, stop by the office at 12 North Main St. in West Hartford Center or call the office at 860.521.5830.