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The Manassas Park Community Center gears up for another great year of their Youth Basketball League

Right now, it is hot outside with temperatures reaching into the high 90s. But in a few months, these hot temperatures will be just a memory as we begin gearing up for the fall and winter seasons. At the Manassas Park Community Center, winter is synonymous with the Community Center’s Youth Basketball League, formerly called Biddy Ball league!

What separates this league from others in our area? Mike Arrington, Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation League Director and Athletics Recreation Specialist says it is a combination of the electric atmosphere, intense games, and the passion of everyone involved to create a memorable experience.

“When I tell the kids to have fun, I really mean it,” Mr. Arrington said while smiling. “We are very hands on. Practices are weekly and games are on Saturdays, and either I or a member of my team, is there each Saturday watching the games, checking out the referees, and keeping everyone happy,” he added.

Keeping everyone happy begins the minute participants sign up for the league. Mr. Arrington pointed out that this league is, by far, the best value in the area. If families have a Community Center All-Access Passport membership, the price is only $45. Residents pay $80 and non-residents pay $90. This price includes an officially licensed, replica NBA jerseys which participants keep after the season has ended.

“We have people coming back year after year because they like the way the league is organized, and that tells me we are doing our job! Our league is developmental; we are providing a fun place where kids really learn how to play the game of basketball, and they have fun,” Arrington added.

Participants and their parent must attend an assessment night. It is during this time that coaches and staff look at each participant to determine their skill levels.  “The kids usually fall into one of three categories and are placed accordingly,” Mr. Arrington explained, “From there, we have a draft. Every effort is made to keep the draft fair and the teams as balanced as possible. It doesn’t benefit the players or the league if the teams are not balanced.”

There are no more than 10 kids on a team which means that every child plays. “We don’t have any king or queen benchwarmers in our program,” emphasized Arrington, “Each coach is on an honor system and usually has an assistant coach or a team mom or dad monitor the playing time of each player on the team.”

“We also bring back the same referees each year because they are consistent. They will stop and explain their calls to our youngest or to our newest players so that the players learn from their mistakes.” Arrington finds this level of interaction from coaches, parents, and referees encouraging and representative of the values he believes the program embodies. Good sportsmanship is a quality that can never be overemphasized.

Coaches are required to attend a mandatory meeting outlining all the rules and regulations. Coaches provide the framework for the league. All coaches are encouraged to let the kids play while learning the fundamentals and the game of basketball. “Just like in the professional NBA, all teams are not winning teams,” Arrington pointed out, “The kids learn how to handle losing as well as learning what it means to win. Learning from mistakes and not always winning certainly are life skills our kids will always use.”

Parents and coaches must sign a Code of Conduct where they agree not to interfere with the learning process. “Our parents are super-involved, and during the games, the gym is rocking,” said Arrington.
“Unfortunately, sometimes a bad call can bring out another side of the parents,” he added. “We understand how emotionally vested our parents are, and, as a last resort, have escorted a parent out of the building,” he admitted, “But that behavior is not the norm.”  

Parents and fans get so involved in the games because they see their kids’ teams progress and get better each week. A great way to reward participants who are noticeably progressing is with an All-Star game, which is also part of this league. Coaches poll their parents to determine the best two players on each team and those players play in the All-Star game. “The MVP of the All-Star game is usually the most well-rounded player,” said Arrington, “We’re looking for the player who is passing, assisting, making defense moves, and encouraging his/her teammates,” he added.

After the regular season ends, each team participates in the playoffs. It is a single elimination playoff where if your team wins, you stay and play another game. If you lose, you go home. The champion team for all the age groups is posted on Facebook and all the kids on the first and second place teams will receive a trophy. The exception is the participants in the 4-5 age group who will receive a certificate of completion.

Participants of all age groups receive a certificate of completion, but Mr. Arrington knows they receive much more than that. They learn teamwork, persistence, and get great exercise too.

“I’m a guy who grew up playing sports – basketball and football to be specific. My dad was hard on us, but my mother honestly was worse! I know what that is like and I am working with my staff to provide a place for kids to have fun and to learn about a game I truly love,” summed up Mr. Arrington.

He isn’t the only one who loves the league at the Manassas Park Community Center. The hundreds of kids who participate and the coaches who teach and guide them come back to play year after year. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Do what you love and have fun too!

Registration for The Manassas Park Youth Basketball League opens August 15th. You can reach Mike Arrington at M.Arrington@manassasparkva.gov for more information.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

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