The league features two divisions - a senior division (10-foot goals) for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and a junior division (9-foot goals) for third, fourth and fifth grade students - for both boys and girls. The league will also offer instruction in team concepts and fundamentals in a controlled game atmosphere.
Each team will receive coaching instruction from the University of Rio Grande men's and women's basketball players.
"We've developed the academy over the past few years as a way to promote the game of basketball," said URG men's basketball head coach Ken French. "It's an hour of instruction and an hour of 5-on-5 game play. Our staff sets up the day, almost like a regular practice day or a camp day, and we try to teach them some things. The object is to not only improve, but for the kids to work on fine-tuning their fundamentals in the fall before the new season rolls around."
The session for boys will run from 2-4 p.m., while the girls session is set for 4-6 p.m. In addition to the instruction and game play, participants will receive a reversible jersey and a complimentary pass to regular season home games.
Cost is $50 per player, which can paid in advance or on the first Sunday of the academy. Space is limited and participants are encouraged to register in advance.
"This is a great way for us to showcase our players and our program," French said. "We have some great young men in our program and we've had players develop some friendships with kids that they've coached, not only in our camp, but through the academy. This allows them to become close to some of the families in our community. It's a win-win situation for us."
Women's basketball head coach David Smalley agreed.
"The academy has been a great success for us in a ton of ways," he said. "Number one, we create such a great relationship with the young girls who attend. We'll have a handful of them come to our games and sit on the bench with us as an honorary coach, which is a great way to have fellowship and develop friendships. Plus, I think it's great way for both the men's and women's programs to give back to the community. We saturate the area with our needs as far as fundraising goes and there are people who bend over backwards to help us out. While this is a fundraiser for us, we're also giving back to the youth of the area and it's a great skill development project for the kids. We try to teach them, but at the same time, they get to do what they really want and that's play the game."
Those games do come with a twist, though.
"We don't keep score," Smalley said. "But we might keep score if, in defensive transition, the defense gets back and gets set up before the ball crosses midcourt. When that happens, we give them a point. Or we may give them a point if they make more than three passes. We try not to let the scoreboard dictate whether or not a player has success. It's not about winning or losing, it's about teaching the game."
For more information, contact French at 740-245-7294 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Smalley can be reached at 740-245-7491 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information is also available on the school's athletics website, www.rioredstorm.com.