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This Summer Basketball League Is Run Entirely by Teens

When school lets out for the summer, the days are filled with family vacations, time with friends, and opportunities to pursue something fun.

Many communities offer a Parks and Recreation program with various sports for people to try or play to fill those summer days. Some private clubs and school districts provide similar opportunities to stay active.

In Barrington, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago, you’ll find a group of teens who got together to organize a summer basketball league. Ryan Chang, Nick Bordenet, Austin Molinaro, and Christian Katris graduated this year from Barrington High School. They started the league last summer when traditional programs were stopped because of pandemic restrictions. [[1]]

Watch them in action here:

24 Teams and 180 Players Have a 14-Game Season

The league posts its results, rankings, and schedules on its Instagram account. “It’s just for fun,” Molinaro says, although there’s certainly a little trash-talking that happens on social media. [[2]]

“This year,” said Katris, “every team has an Instagram account.”

Each team in the Barrington summer basketball league has seven or eight players. They purchase or make matching uniforms and name themselves whatever they want – within reason. This year’s competition includes the Cocoa Puffs and the Solar Bears.

The games typically happen on the courts at Countryside Elementary School. Everything is kept low-key, with the spectator chairs and the scorer’s table coming from Katris’s basement. They have kids take turns manning the scoreboard, compiling statistics, and keeping track of time.

Everything routes through the four “commissioners” who ensure that each task gets completed appropriately so that all teams have a great time.

“We love basketball,” said Bordenet, “and seeing everybody who comes together.” The league has players who just finished eighth grade to those who graduated from high school this year.

Katris and Bordenet played on the varsity team in high school, finishing third this year at state, but sports aren’t the only emphasis for the four friends. Molinaro sings in an a cappella group, is involved in local theater, and won awards for his sports programming on the school’s television network.

Chang was an all-area defender for the varsity soccer team. “I played basketball before I played soccer,” he said. “It was my first love.” He’s quick to note that most of the summer league players aren’t on club or school teams. “You don’t have to be ‘good’ to play.”

There Are No Referees for These Games

Players are responsible for calling fouls and infractions in the game, with the four founders accepting or rejecting the call when present for the contest.

“The tone of each game sets itself,” notes Molinaro.

Taking this approach keeps costs down for all players since there are no referees to pay. Each team puts up $15, which offsets the scoreboard cost and other unexpected expenses.

Teams are divided into two conferences. The schedule is based on power rankings to match teams of similar abilities to avoid blowouts.

Each game has two 15-minute halves, with the final game featuring the two best teams ending around 8:30 PM.

Although that makes the summer league more of a pickup experience, it’s still a fun time for the players. You’ll see the occasional jammed finger or scraped leg, but physical confrontations are relatively rare. One of the families involved with the league donated safety pads to wrap around the metal poles that hold the backboards.

The four boys say that this year will be the last for the league unless someone steps up to take over their leadership role. Bordenet is heading to Ohio State University, Katris and Chang to Indiana University, and Molinaro to the University of Dayton.

Sports Participation Keeps Kids Out of Trouble

Teens deciding to play in high school sports agree to follow state rules and regulations regarding eligibility. That means they must maintain a minimum GPA, not fail any classes, and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Summer leagues teach teamwork, encourage teens to challenge themselves, and provide positive social interactions. It takes time to participate, which means fewer moments of boredom occur that could lead to detrimental decisions. [[3]]

Most importantly, teen-led recreational activities for their peers create a positive identity for all participants while offering feelings of acceptance.

References:

[[1]] Constable: No adults? No problem for this Barrington basketball league (dailyherald.com); [[2]] Barrington Summer League (@barringtonsummerleague) • Instagram photos and videos[[3]] Does Participation in Sports Keep Teens Out of Trouble? - ModernMom

Photo Credit: @barringtonsummerleague_instagram.com

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