By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Westborough – On any given Sunday morning between December and March, the parking lot at Westborough High School (WHS) is full to near capacity while inside the clatter of basketballs pounding backboards and hardwood give witness to a remarkably successful program under way.
What draws the crowds is the Westborough High School Recreation Basketball League that consists of 139 high school-age players from town who meet as part of a 14-team league that practices once a week and unites on Sundays for game competition. The program is over two decades old, according to Westborough Recreation Director Alan Grady, who oversees the program, and is as popular now as ever.
“The league is a lot of fun for a lot of kids who may have played a couple of years in [junior varsity] or freshman ball and then realize that maybe it would be fun to play here,” said Grady. “It’s been very popular. It’s a really good collaboration between juniors and seniors and sophomores and freshmen who may have a little less experience. The older kids kind of take the younger ones under their wing, show them the game and it’s just a really great collaboration.”
“I’ve been playing since my sophomore year and this is just a lot of fun and competitive,” said WHS senior Jon Gross, who also plays on the school’s varsity ice hockey team. “Everyone really gets into it and it’s a good time to come down and play a really well-organized game of basketball with your friends.”
Sponsorship by local businesses sustains the program.
“The community support has been great,” Grady said. “Anything we’ve put out there, we’re quick to get support. The local businesses have been super easy to work with and super helpful.”
The majority of volunteer coaches are fathers who both instruct and guide teams into game competition. Each team advances to an end-of-the-year playoff format with the finals scheduled to be broadcast by local TV Sunday, March 20. Observation of the game action is quick to prove that all involved are having fun and learning skills which is the core mission and goal of the program.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I love coaching with the kids. The kids have fun and it’s competitive,” said John Kelley, who has coached in the Recreational League for more than 10 years. “We’re trying to win the games but more than anything we want the kids to have fun and improve their skills. We ask that they give their best effort. Sportsmanship is very important also. We make sure that they don’t get mad at the referees. They have a very difficult job and we stress good behavior all the time.”
“I really have fun watching people I know play,” explained WHS senior Jason Lu about his motivation to participate. “It’s just fun to get out here. This is a great way to get active. Our skills are developing. It’s nice to win games but more than anything it’s just great to come out and have fun and bond with a great group of guys.”
League sponsors are Arturo’s Ristorante, Westborough Civic Club, Bistro 57, The Training Associates, Westboro House of Pizza, Westborough Car Wash, JP’s Restaurant, Boroughs Medical and Wellness Center, Smook Architecture & Urban Design, Chick-fil-A, Westborough Athletic and Social Association, Curry Printing, Ricardi Designs and Avidia Bank.
For more information, visit the Recreation Department website at www.westbororec.com.