By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Girls in the Boardman Local School District are prepping for high school basketball at a young age.
The district is in its second year of a two-month basketball program for girls in grades kindergarten through six.
“We haven’t had a youth program per se,” said Jeff Hammerton, varsity head basketball coach and organizer of the youth program. “And we’re going through some tough times, wins and losses, and we addressed the issue as the girls weren’t starting to play until seventh grade.”
The first month of the program is skills-based. Participants work with members of the high school team and the coaching staff to learn basketball skills.
In the second month, they are divided into teams with volunteer coaches and play 45-minute games each week.
“We want to get them acclimated to basketball,” Hammerton said. “We want them to enjoy basketball at a young age, and they’ll want to continue playing.”
Melissa Flood’s 9-year-old daughter, Malysea, is participating in the program for the first time.
Malysea expressed an interest in basketball, Melissa said.
“She’s enjoying it very much,” Melissa said. “And she’s improving very much also, so it’s helped her a lot.”
It is a good way to prepare the children to play in high school, she added.
“They teach them the basics,” she said. “I think it’s a great program.”
About 130 students participated this year.