It used to be that former HOOPTIME basketball players competed their little sneakers off from fourth-grade on to eighth, and then they chose a high school team, and summer basketball camps or, if lucky enough, a traveling summer team from up north asked a select player or two to join Team Alaska or Team Anchorage or Team Up North.
It used to be.
As of Tuesday night, Juneau’s HOOPTIME announced officially that they will continue their basketball education with a high school Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team.
The HOOPTIME Board and coach Bob Saviers had previously applied for a grant with the City & Borough of Juneau’s Youth Activities Board and attended a meeting of the board in the Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School library on Tuesday.
Flanked by both JDHS and TMHS coaches and supportive parents, players, and Hooptime Board members, Saviers stated that the turnout was amazing.
“There was a lot of support,” Saviers said. “Hooptime is going to have a high school hoops team. Whether we get the grant or not, we will continue our fundraising efforts.”
This means that the HOOPTIME Basketball 8th grade boys’ team that just placed second in their bracket at the Las Vegas Grand Opening Tournament, among 18 teams from Washington, California, Utah, and Arizona, April 20-23rd, can continue on.
It means that Coach Bob Saviers and Coach Jeremy Stephens who were very happy with the team’s performance (they won 3 out of 5 games to place second in their bracket) can look the team in the eyes and say, “We will see you next year.”
It means the 8th grade girls, who traveled with Coach Heather Clark and Asst coach Shelly Saviers to compete in the Las Vegas Easter Classic on April 5-6 with six teams from Nevada and Utah, have more to look forward to.
It means that a grant from the Youth Activities Board will aid in their fundraising efforts and continue to provide Juneau youth, like those recently competing in the same division in Las Vegas that NBA star Dwight Howard did, can continue to do so.
It means that HOOPTIME Basketball, established in 2002, and a member of AAU, now has boys and girl teams from fourth grade to eighth grade... and beyond.
“It is phenomenal,” Saviers said. “It is insane. But we are trying to teach kids to stay in school and keep up your grades. The parents love it because it saves college money, the kids love it because it is fun.”
HOOPTIME cooperates with both high schools and junior high school programs. While some AAU programs take athletes away from competitive high school sports, HOOPTIME tries to extend the athlete’s seasons and help them meet expectations and great hopes while still emphasizing the Juneau school programs. The bottom line is to help Juneau athletes become aware of the potential of obtaining college scholarships.
“Now that the word has been getting out we are getting lots of interest,” Saviers said. “Across the whole state, people are coming to us and asking if they could put one of their guys on the team. Now I can tell people what we will or won’t do, because this is about Juneau. This is about putting Juneau on the map and our Juneau schools on the map.”
Once the funding is in place, tryouts will be held and a team selected to compete in spring or summer tournaments around the United States. The team mascot is still non-existent.
“We want people to tell us what to call it,” Saviers said. “We want people to be involved and help name this team. The Juneau Capitals, I don’t know... we just want the kids to play.”
The original AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sport and served as a leader in international sport representing the United States in the international sports federations. It also worked to prepare athletes for the Olympic games.
More information on HOOPTIME can be found at www.hooptime.org.