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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Kids’ hoops league hits campus

    Eli Mendoza, 7, watches one of the games at the ASUA Youth Basketball & Cheer League at Bear Down Gym, Saturday afternoon. UA students coach local youth in basketball and cheerleading in hopes of introducing them to the college atmosphere.
    Eli Mendoza, 7, watches one of the games at the ASUA Youth Basketball & Cheer League at Bear Down Gym, Saturday afternoon. UA students coach local youth in basketball and cheerleading in hopes of introducing them to the college atmosphere.

    The cheers of hundreds of children and parents echoed in Bear Down Gymnasium as the Associated Students of the University of Arizona kicked off its Youth Basketball and Cheer League Saturday.

    The league, which was created in 1996, is offered free of cost, said Niel Curley, ASUA’s community development director and public administration, public management and policy senior.

    About 450 Tucson children and 96 UA students, who volunteer as cheer and basketball coaches, participated in this year’s league.

    Curley has worked with the Youth Basketball and Cheer League for four years, two of which he has served as league organizer.

    “”A lot of our kids who participate in the league wouldn’t get this chance otherwise,”” Curley said. “”It’s absolutely free, we give them free coaching, free uniforms, free games and we also try to expose them to the college atmosphere.””

    ASUA wants to inspire kids in the league to think about putting college in their plans, Curley said.

    “”We pair them up with UA students as coaches, to try to be their mentors: build confidence, teamwork, sportsmanship; and college can be a life goal for them,”” he said. “”I feel it’s important to give back to the community, to show that U of A is an integral part of Tucson.””

    David Stuehm’s 10-year-old daughter, Suheily, participated in the event with her team, “”The Flaming Squirrels.””

    Stuehm said his daughter enjoys playing basketball but because of her late birthday she’s too young to play in most school leagues; however,this league gave her a chance.

    “”My dad taught me (how to play basketball) when I was really young and I just like it,”” Suheily said.

    Suheily didn’t know many of her teammates before joining “”The Flaming Squirrels,”” but that is just another part of the league experience.

    “”My favorite part about the tournament would probably be meeting others and just playing,”” she said.

    Suheily was one of the few girls playing basketball on Saturday. “”The Flaming Squirrels”” have three girls on their team, but many other teams are made up mostly or completely of boys.

    Although Suheily was one of the few girls on the basketball court, there were numerous girls cheering on the sidelines.

    Megan Arrington, a pre-retail and consumer sciences freshman, stood on the sidelines, surrounded by six girls – all of whom wore pink shirts and cheered loudly as the teams ran up and down the court.

    Arrington said it makes her day to see the girls, who vary in age from 7 to 9 years old, get excited about cheering.

    It’s important for the girls to take part in the League because it teaches them dedication, trust and teamwork, she said.

    Along with learning cheers to support the basketball teams, the cheer teams are also working on a dance routine for a competition at the end of the league, Arrington said.

    The basketball teams have three more weeks of competition before the championship game on March 8, Curley said.

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