When I arrived at Buena Vista-Horace Mann Community School, I immediately found Ateneza, a student of Dr. Charles Drew Alternative School, enthusiastically playing a game of one on one with Coach Wayne while waiting for the Playworks girls’ basketball extravaganza to begin. The extravaganza, which took place on October 22nd, is an annual event run by Playworks. The event is meant to build community with students from participating schools and encourage participation in the Playworks interscholastic girls’ basketball league.
When asked how she thought participating on a girls’ basketball team would help her daughter, Ateneza’s mother Nicole replied, “She’ll be able to be among other girls and personalities and learn to deal with those differences.” Nicole’s daughter is one of over one hundred 3rd-5th grade girls representing the 25 participating schools in San Francisco, South San Francisco, and Marin County. As part of this developmental league, girls’ basketball teams are encouraged to learn the fundamentals of basketball and focus on teamwork, inclusion, and fun rather than on competition. Scores are not kept in order to encourage all players to go home feeling like a winner.
Anticipating the arrival of her girls’ basketball team from Sanchez Elementary School, Coach Renae looked on as Coach Wayne and Ateneza continued their game of one-on-one. Coach Renae said, “Some of them really want to play [basketball], but they haven’t learned the basics yet. I am hoping the extravaganza will help foster their already budding skills.”
Throughout the event, approximately 150 girls rotated through different drills, building up skills from defensive footwork to dribbling, from passing to shooting, even to three-lines basketball style scrimmaging. Girls from all teams encouraged each other and received high-fives and positive words from Playworks coaches.
The extravaganza wrapped with a closing community circle where appreciations and spirited cheers were shared with the entire group. Davious and David, older brothers of Davariyauntae, a player from Glen Park, expressed that the girls’ basketball league is a good way to get together with other girls and see new places. When asked what advice they would share with teams for the season, the brothers responded, “Have fun and be good sports.”