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County basketball program is revamped

Facing declining participation, Grady County Recreation Department Director Becky Bracewell is looking to revamp the county’s basketball program in hopes of making it more beneficial and attractive to local youth.
With participation dropping from 150 children to 138 this year, compared to 700 this year for baseball, softball and teeball and 703 for flag football, peewee football, tackle football, cheerleading and soccer, Mrs. Bracewell recommended to the Grady County Board of Commissioners this week to make basketball an instructional program rather than a competitive program.
She explained that the basketball season runs during the season for the local schools which makes it difficult for scheduling use of the local public school gymnasiums.
“What I would like to see us do is go to an instructional league with scrimmages. We need to teach the concepts of the game. You have to learn the concepts and skills of the game in order to play basketball. I think we need to revamp the program and I’ve decided this is what is best for our children,” Mrs. Bracewell said.
Due to the lack of participation, teams have been formed in the past with mixed ages ranging from 9 to 12 year olds on the same team. “That doesn’t work very well,” she said.
Grady County Administrator Rusty Moye agreed with Bracewell and said, “this way every child will get their hands on the ball. In the past, the one that could dribble got to shoot.”
The program proposed by Mrs. Bracewell would include children ages 5 to 12 as it has in the past. She says the county would no longer need to purchase team t-shirts and pay for officials. She says during scrimmages, which would be scheduled at the coaches’ discretion, the players can wear scrimmage vests.
The county recreation director says she has three coaches interested in participating in the new instructional league and she also can pull in high school basketball players to assist.
Mrs. Bracewell recommended dropping the participation fee from $15 to $10, which she also believes will increase participation.
Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs asked if the old Cairo High School gymnasium could be used for county recreation basketball rather than having to schedule around other activities at the various school gyms.
Mrs. Bracewell said that the wrestling program holds its practices in the old gym and that due to the weight of the wrestling mats it was not a feasible option.
Grady County Commissioner Al Ball wanted to make sure the instructional league provided adequate exercise and activity for the participants and Mrs. Bracewell agreed and said that was an important part of learning the concept and skills of the game.
“We feel like teaching the kids the game of basketball with less attention on win/loss records will be the direction we need to go in to improve participation and will be in the best interest of our youth basketball program,” the recreation director said.
After hearing Mrs. Bracewell’s recommendation and discussing it with her, the board voted unanimously to approve the instructional league format for the 2012 basketball program.

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