Kids learn basketball skills, build friendships with Gurnee Park District leagues

  • Coach Chris Murray, right, demonstrates the next drill for his 6-8 grade team during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee.

    Coach Chris Murray, right, demonstrates the next drill for his 6-8 grade team during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee. Courtesy of Gurnee Park District

 
 
Posted2/20/2021 7:30 AM

Youth basketball leagues have returned to the Gurnee Park District. As the COVID-19 restrictions eased over the past month, the district was able to offer a modified program following state safety protocols.

Alia Pyrex, left, and Shelby Lindsay work on defense during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee.
Alia Pyrex, left, and Shelby Lindsay work on defense during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee. - Courtesy of Gurnee Park District

Face coverings are worn by the players and coaches, and only participants and coaches are allowed indoors. Eighty boys and girls in grades 1-8 are participating in the leagues, which kicked off Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee.

Teams have been formed and practices are run by volunteer coaches. The noncontact practices focus on improving shooting, dribbling, passing and rebounding.

Athletics supervisor Chris Marzano hopes participants learn about teamwork, working hard and commitment.

"In addition to learning and improving on basketball skills, my hope is that basketball is a building block for youth athletes to learn the importance of an active/healthy lifestyle," Marzano said.

Thomas Higgins, left, and Luke Rand work on their skills during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee.
Thomas Higgins, left, and Luke Rand work on their skills during the Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee. - Courtesy of Gurnee Park District

"Creating a safe, fun environment to compete and play will hopefully lead to kids coming back or branching out to other sports or activities."

Marzano says its important to offer league basketball because sports offer kids a physical and social outlet. Participants can reconnect with friends and build new relationships. The coaches make the practices both fun and challenging.

Coach Tom Higgins, right, with his fifth and sixth grade Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league team at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee.
Coach Tom Higgins, right, with his fifth and sixth grade Gurnee Park District's youth basketball league team at the Hunt Club Park Community Center in Gurnee. - Courtesy of Gurnee Park District

At the end of the season, teams will participate in free throw contests, 3-point contests and team relays. League play ends March 27.

"I really enjoy seeing the players leave the gyms tired and smiling. It is great seeing players from different teams talking and laughing about the game they just played or the practice they just finished," Marzano said.

"Seeing our volunteer coaches having fun and teaching the kids is another great addition. Without those coaches, these opportunities would not be as successful as they are for the players."

For more information about the district's youth programs, visit www.gurneeparkdistrict.com.

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