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The Simmons Center’s youth basketball league has gotten a boost the past three years through a partnership with the Waymon’s Lightning youth basketball league.
Signups are continuing for the local league, which begins play in December. Lori Belcher, the center’s youth program and recreational sports manager, said the partnership with Waymon’s Lightning expands on the opportunities for youth who participate.
“They offer a state tournament in March for third through sixth grades,” Belcher said. “We have a regional tournament held at the Simmons Center. And the best thing about Waymon’s Lightning is that they believe in teaching fundamentals.”
Waymon’s Lightning was named in honor of the late Waymon Tisdale, a University of Oklahoma men’s basketball player who excelled in both college and the NBA. While attending OU, he was a three-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and the first collegiate player to be named an Associated Press All-American in his freshman through junior years.
Tisdale was the second overall pick of the 1985 NBA draft, selected by the Indiana Pacers. He played for the Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns during his 12 seasons in the NBA.
The Lightning league’s website states that the program is designed to build character and sportsmanship, along with teaching children basketball fundamentals. Belcher said the league gives youths a chance to learn skills and perhaps spark their interest in playing basketball in middle and high school.
“It’s all about the kids enjoying the game of basketball, and hopefully it will carry on through junior high and high school,” Belcher said.
The pee-wee division is open to children in kindergarten through second grade. No scores are kept in this division. The youth division for third through sixth grades features scored games.
While most games are played on a “short court,” or a full court divided into two smaller courts, Belcher said that this year’s games for fifth- and sixth-graders will be played on a full court this year.
Belcher said that signups have been good so far and several teams have been formed. The league will accept signups through the month of December, but Belcher noted that teams are limited to 10 players. While there is the option for a full team of 10 players to register, Belcher said that parents who want to sign up their children individually should do quickly, so they can ensure their children a spot on a team.
“As long as we have a place for them, we will accept registrations through the month of December,” she said.
Belcher added that the center still has scholarships available for families who qualify. A player who is eligible for a scholarship gets a 50 percent discount off registration fees, which are $60 for kindergarten through second grade and $70 for others. Parents who wish to inquire about scholarships, get registration information or other details may call the Simmons Center at 252-2900, ext. 227.