Rejuvenation goal for Greencastle park’s Youth Basketball Program

Friday, November 25, 2016

Boosting the numbers involved in the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department Youth Basketball Program could help cure what ails it, the Park Board heard during a special meeting this week.

Addressing the board as a new member of the Youth Basketball League Committee, Matt Welker said the goal is “to revamp and rejuvenate the city league.”

Player numbers have noticeably decreased over the past 15 years with 310 kids involved in 2001 and just 135 registered so far for the 2016-17 program.

Park Director Rod Weinschenk said the current number is actually 10 players more than last year at this point in the registration process. By the first game last year the league had 165 participants, he said.

If the program can get back to 250-300 players, Welker said it can return to playing grade level versus grade level with second-graders, for example, only playing second-graders, instead of having to mix older kids in with younger players.

That alone should make for better competition among teams, board members agreed.

“I’m in full support of trying to make it a better league,” said board member Tim Trigg, whose four daughters have all played in the league. “It’s been weak at times. Anything you want to try to get the numbers up, I’m all for it, because if you don’t do that, none of the other things will be possible.”

Some of those other things include lowering the registration fee from its current $65 for students in grades 1-6, improving the league shirts players receive, saving money by getting volunteers to officiate instead of paying referees and getting the Greencastle High School basketball coaches to become actively involved in the program.

“All of the other decisions become so much easier if the numbers are up,” Welker reasoned.

He suggested lowering the $65 registration fee to $25, noting that $25 from 325 kids is about the same as $65 from 165 players.

“We get feedback that $65 keeps people away,” Welker said of the Youth Basketball Committee.

The fee change is something that could be looked into for next season, Trigg said, noting that sign-ups are well under way at present. He also noted that $65 “is the lowest league around,” citing soccer and softball registrations as costing more.

Welker also suggested looking into the agreement with Greencastle Schools on use of the gyms for practice and games.

Gym use is currently billed at $1,250, while a $1,080 gym supervisor fee is also paid to have a keyholder on site during practice and games.

Saying he would “love to see that (gym rental) figure waived if possible,” Welker said the league should see if it can arrange for Weinschenk or another park person to serve as the keyholder and avoid the $1,080 fee.

That would be a total $2,300 savings that could help lessen the need for a $65 registration fee.

Welker also cited the free use by GHS teams of park facilities like Big Walnut Sports Park and People Pathways, suggesting that it should be a more reciprocal relationship.

Meanwhile, the suggestion of better shirts was meant “to spruce things up a little, with an eye to cost, of course, but something instead of just T-shirts.”

He said the committee would favor shirts with just “Greencastle basketball” on the front and the sponsor’s name and a number on the back.

“Just to freshen it up,” Welker said. “One complaint we hear is our shirts are stale and stagnant.”

The Park Board took no immediate action on the basketball program suggestions.

Meanwhile, the Youth Basketball League is holding skills clinics Monday and Wednesday, Nov. 28 and 30 -- with registrations accepted both nights -- after which the coaches will meet to form teams.

Practices will be conducted beginning Monday, Dec. 5.

Also, the park’s “My First Shot” basketball program for kindergartners is a Saturday-only program which will begin with practices on Saturdays, Jan. 7 and 14. Skill reviews and games will start Saturday, Jan. 21.

Registration for “My First Shot” is $40 per child.

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