Lynchburg Parks and Recreation and the Lynchburg Police Department are celebrating another successful season of their summer youth basketball program.
The Hill City Hoops Street League just wrapped up its second year, and according to organizers, it has grown popular very quickly since it started last summer.
At a Hill City Hoops event, Lynchburg’s Miller Park comes to life.
“It’s 5-on-5, simple games up and down the court – just something to do,” said Rodney Spinner, a high school senior in the program.
“Something to do” was harder to find before the summer youth basketball league was created last year, said Lt. Tony Crews of the Lynchburg Police Department.
“The kids said, ‘We don’t have anything to do,'” he explained. “So we all got together with the community, and we said, ‘Well, let’s give them something positive to do.'”
Lynchburg officials were trying to find a way to use the new lights at Miller Park last year, and a community member suggested starting a basketball league, Crews said. The league allows police officers to build a stronger relationship with the city’s youth, he added.
“Hopefully, by us interacting now when there’s something positive, when they’re not doing something so positive, we can get in there and we can talk to them,” Crews said. “We can mentor to them and say, ‘Hey…there’s a better way to handle this.'”
This season, all of the games were played at Miller Park, but organizers may need to add more parks in the future as they expect the program to continue expanding, said Tereika Grooms of the Diamond Hill Community Center.
“The kids get to stay active, and it’s something positive for them in the community to do that’s free,” she said.
The league has grown from ten teams last year to 16 teams this year, Crews said.
“It’s fun,” said DeAndre Word, a high school freshman. “You’re playing basketball; you get to eat. They provide food and all that stuff.”
“It’s good for the community,” Spinner said. “Keep them out of trouble and stuff, give them something better to do.”
Next summer, organizers hope to have at least 20 teams in the league, Crews said.
Registration for next summer will start around the end of the school year, Grooms said.