Saturdays in Flint are a lot busier for 300 youth thanks to the revival of an old community tradition.
Cheers and spirit fill multiple gymnasiums from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on game days as students from elementary to high school enjoy participating in the first city-sponsored basketball league in 15 years.
Youth, families and fans of community sports are enjoying the resurgence of active, hometown competition. Organizers of the program say the basketball league might set the stage for year-round, city-sponsored athletics for local youth.
“We’re full, as far as players, but you can come and watch,” says Sean Croudy, city director of community recreation and co-commissioner of the league. “The first few weeks it’s been standing-room only. It’s been super-cold and people have been coming out anyway.”
Divisions consist of players in the third and fourth grades and fifth and sixth grades, who compete at Eagles Nest Charter Academy, 5101 Cloverlawn Drive. Seventh and eighth grade players and ninth through twelfth graders take the court at Cathedral of Faith Ministries’ gym, 6031 Dupont. The 31 teams are coached by volunteers from the community. Game admission is $3 and allows fans to attend games all day at both sites.
Predominantly a boys league, there are two teams for girls. All children play free of charge.
Mayor Karen Weaver’s support of reinstating the league, assistance from partners, including Flint Recast, Eagles Nest, Cathedral of Faith, and Chris McLavish Basketball, operated by league co-commissioner Chris McLavish, made the program possible, Croudy says.
The 10-week league, including two weeks of playoffs for teams with the best winning records, ends in March.
Along with sports action, the community can receives literature about employment, home safety, healthy living and other topics that impact youth and families, at game sites – “anything positive that’s going on in our community,” says Croudy.
“This brings together the community to see some good basketball, and kids that are learning how to be competitive, making friends, getting exercise,” he says. “And it’s getting the kids away from those video games. It’s helping them get active.”