Play Inc. boards debate basketball program

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Members of the Play, Inc. executive board and basketball board discussed a controversial pilot program at a Monday night meeting. About 500 basketball players this season have been divided into two leagues — competitive and recreational — rather than by district as in the past, but some executive board members are leery of the program.

Under the new program, competitive league coaches must have at least four years of coaching experience, while recreational coaches are not held to the same requirement, according to basketball board member Janelle Morris. Competitive league players must be recommended by a coach and have parental permission to play in the league, basketball board members said.

Not all recreational team coaches are less experienced, however, as several will coach in both leagues, or choose to coach a recreational team instead of a competitive team.

The new procedures were designed for the hundreds of kids who use the non-profit youth and family center for recreational purposes, said basketball board member and coach of 23 years, David Dawson.

“It’s all about the kids,” Dawson said. “You don’t learn anything if you are getting beat 70-2. That’s really what it all boils down to — we want to give every kid the opportunity to succeed.”

A few executive board members received queries from parents concerned about the new procedures and expressed concerns of their own about the new program. Executive board member Regan Williams said he was offended because a higher standard had been set for competition league coaches.

Williams said his “biggest concern is the perception” the new program sends to league players and parents.

The Play, Inc. football program established similar league distinctions, and they worked well, according to Dawson. He said other Play, Inc. sports programs may implement the basketball and football league distinctions in the future, due to strong coach support.

The new procedures helps young players gain confidence and play competitively with other athletes at their level, Dawson said.