YMCA basketball teaches life lessons

Published 6:17 pm Saturday, December 26, 2015

Fredrico Tyre Jr. looks for someone to pass the ball to during a YMCA youth basketball game between the Spurs and the Thunder Dec. 19 at the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County.

Fredrico Tyre Jr. looks for someone to pass the ball to during a YMCA youth basketball game between the Spurs and the Thunder Dec. 19 at the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County. — Justin Fedich

The YMCA of Selma-Dallas County’s youth basketball league, comprised of 15 teams kindergarten through sixth grade, accomplishes much more than teaching kids the difference between winning and losing.

“The Y is about empowering everyone,” said YMCA youth basketball co-coordinator Kimesha Alvarado.

While the league teaches kids how to be competitive, it’s much more successful in showing players that there’s much more to life than winning and losing. The coaches encourage their players to spread the ball around to every player, and there will never be one player who spends his or her entire game on the bench.

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Regardless of talent, each player is given an equal opportunity to succeed, but that doesn’t mean the best players on the team aren’t getting an opportunity to learn and grow.

“They’re really learning how to trust one another and how to rely on one another and how to help one another because it’s a team thing not an individual,” said head coach of the Spurs Jerry Armstead.

The age groups are split into three separate divisions, with fifth and sixth graders comprising the oldest division. Alvarado said the two younger divisions don’t focus as much on individual statistics and don’t allow kids to receive technical fouls or foul out.

Alvarado also said every another reason each child is given their fair share of playing time is because there are multiple special needs children on the YMCA youth basketball teams.

“We serve with special needs children, so we want everyone to feel like their input and their action on the team made a difference,” Alvarado said.

Head coach of the fifth and sixth grade’s black team Javaris Brewer has several talented players on his team, but he attributes his team’s success to a willingness to give everyone an opportunity.

“We emphasize a lot on getting everybody involved in the game,” Brewer said. “Rotating the ball. Making sure everybody gets a chance to play more so all the kids are involved.”

Alvin Barnett, who coaches the fifth and sixth grade’s green team, doesn’t worry about his team winning and losing as much as he tries to teach his players lessons that they can take with them to the middle school level.

Barnett said that if they don’t learn some of the fundamentals in youth basketball, it may be hard to learn them once they get to a more competitive level of basketball.

“They may plan to play in the future,” Barnett said. “This is a lesson. Now is the time to actually learn the game. At the next level, you’ve got to know the game.”

Alvarado said one of the strengths of the YMCA youth basketball league is the coaching. From firemen to politicians to local business owners, coaches that represent the youth teams are comprised of some of the most hard-working citizens in Selma.

Alvarado believes the high standard the coaches set gives a good example for the young players.

“It just gives the children somebody to look up to,” Alvarado said. “Sometimes the parents are really busy. My son plays on the team. I’m working most of the day, so the coaches are who we use to give them that sense of security.”

Each team has played four games so far this season. After taking a break for the holidays, the season will resume Jan. 4. The final game of the season is on Jan. 23, and the playoffs take place from Jan. 25 to Jan. 30.

Alvarado said regardless of the outcome in the playoffs, every team will receive a trophy for participation.

“We really just try to teach fun and having a good time,” Alvarado said.

About Justin Fedich

Staff writer for The Selma Times-Journal.

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