On May 14, 2022, Playworks New England hosted our Girl’s Basketball Extravaganza.
Over 80 elementary aged girls from Playworks schools across Boston gathered at the Boston Center for Youth and Families’ Recreation Center in Madison Park for the one day event, with the goal of learning the fundamentals of basketball.
When the players arrived, they were greeted by 20 smiling Playworks staff and coaches who were ready to teach, play, and have fun. Even the decorations in the gym were encouraging and indicative of a great morning, with posters lining the walls featuring each school represented and quotes from some of the biggest names in female sports, created by Playworks staff. The morning began with registration and a shoot around where the girls got to mingle with their friends, say hello to their Playworks Coach, and meet other Playworks Coaches and peers from around the city. Throughout the event, Senior Program Manager Stephon Lilly (aka DJ Peter Perfect) kept the mood fun and lively, blasting music throughout the gym.
After opening ceremonies, all players were divided into groups of 10-15 to cycle through the skill stations, with each station focusing on a different fundamental skill for basketball. Players learned and practiced how to dribble, shoot, make lay-ups, pass, rebound, and correct defensive positioning.. During this time parents in attendance were encouraged to walk around and get pictures and videos of their child participating in the drills and in typical Playworks fashion, to cheer them on as they participated.
Malaya, a fourth grader from the John F. Kennedy school said she enjoyed the stations and that she was excited for the rest of the day. “I enjoyed it because it was fun and [the Playworks Coaches] hyped us up,” she said.
After an hour of play, everyone took a 15 minute break for water and snacks, pictures, and an opportunity for kids and parents to learn about the summer programs being offered through Boston Public Schools this year.
Once the break was over the girls were able to begin the second round of stations. This time, even though the same six stations were set up, rather than learning the fundamentals each station was set up with a fun game to play that highlighted the skills learned. Games included a basketball variation of Steal the Bacon, where players used defensive positioning to defend a player from scoring, and Foxes and Bunnies, featured at the passing station and emphasizing the need for teamwork.
The final activity of the day was a 20 minute recess period, where all players were able to play some of the games they enjoyed earlier in the day. The gym was bustling: girls were playing Steal the Bacon, Three Line Basketball, and maybe the largest game of half-court basketball ever featuring a 10-on-10 matchup of students vs Playworks Coaches.
Jazlyn (4th grader at the John F. Kennedy School) said she was glad she attended the basketball extravaganza.
“It gave me a workout and was fun and I really love basketball,” she said. Jazlyn added that when she’s in high school, she wants to play on the basketball team and that the skills she learned at the extravaganza would help her work towards that goal.
After all of the basketball play, the closing ceremonies were led by Senior Program Manager Dana Harris. Coach D thanked all players for attending, their parents for bringing them. and the Playworks Coaches for their planning/participation. He ended the ceremony with high-fives all around, and then a large group of exhausted but happy basketball superstars left the gym.
After the event, Coach D reflected that it was great to see so many girls participating during the day and improving their basketball skills.
“To see some girls work on their shooting and struggle at first but then get through the stations and knock down shots… it was dope,” Coach D said. He continued his reflection saying he was glad to be able to put on the event for elementary aged girls, especially because there are few opportunities for them to learn the game.
“We know that around the city, young boys get the opportunity to play in leagues at a young age,” Harris said. “We want to give young girls the same opportunity to play those sports. They don’t know what they can accomplish because they haven’t been given the chance, and that’s where Playworks comes in.”