Life Lessons Through Basketball

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Members of League of Girls, the city's only all girl youth basketball league, play 3-game tournaments on Saturdays in Southeast DC. Photo by Larry Vauss of LVJ Studios.

Looking for a girl’s youth sporting activity that will allow your youngster to engage in physical activity and also help her learn important life skills? LOG might be the perfect fit. Created three years ago by DC native Lonnie Harrell, a former Georgetown Hoya and streetball legend, LOG empowers young girls to participate in competitive basketball while providing lifelong lessons that encourage personal and athletic development.

Youth player Brooklynne Smith (12) and League of Girls founder Lonnie Harrell honored WNBA All Star Marissa Coleman on Saturday, November 19 in Southeast DC. Photo by Larry Vauss of LVJ Studios.

One Saturday morning in December I headed over to Summerset Prep Charter School to see players of the League of Girls (LOG) compete in a basketball tournament. DC’s only all-girls youth basketball league, LOG engages in three-day tournaments in Southeast DC throughout the winter season.

The atmosphere was exploding with good spirits as the players ran, pivoted, and dribbled up and down the court. From layups to three-pointers to defending their opponents, the girls demonstrated great effort in an encouraging yet competitive atmosphere. The coaches were positive and educational while sitting next to the players or standing to provide coaching cues. Coaches and players shared high fives as each girl came off the court. The coaches themselves had once been basketball players and showed an understanding and a passion for the game.

I had to opportunity to speak with several of the LOG parents while sitting in the stands and watching the girls compete. Parents had only great things to say about their daughter’s experience and growth at LOG. Steve, a father of 10-year-old Kailyn, said he found a great organization that is physically active and challenging. Kailyn had participated in recreational and county basketball leagues, but she wanted something more. “There wasn’t a sense of good commitment and a team atmosphere that allowed her to grow as a player and as a person. LOG gives my daughter more than just the physical challenge. It gives Kailyn something to do that is positive, while keeping her out of trouble,” explained Steve.

My experience in youth sports for the last 20 years confirms Steve’s view. Having children participate in sports provides life lessons, such as teamwork, communication, and learning about failure and perseverance. But not all sports organizations are the same. The right atmosphere is key! As Steve said so well, “It’s the individuals behind the organization, the parents and other leaders, who make the positive learning atmosphere a great experience for all.” Steve explained, “The skills training is great, being active … being around likeminded people.” I could sense that Steve and Kailyn’s experience was a life changing one.

Sylvia, mother of a nine-year-old, has one of the youngest girls in the organization. “She loves playing basketball and has played with boys older than her, but wanted a girls team and female competitors that were around her age,” explained Sylvia. “My daughter absolutely loves it! LOG is a family-oriented organization, which works great for me too.”

WNBA All Star, Marissa Coleman (bottom center), was honored by members of the League of Girls Basketball League for her contribution to women’s basketball and her commitment to youth sports on Saturday, November 19 in Southeast DC. Photo by Larry Vauss of LVJ Studios.

However, it is not only girls and parents who can benefit from Harrell’s basketball experience and teaching. Patrice, who has a daughter that loves playing with LOG, also has a nine-year-old old son, RJ, who enjoys the conditioning sessions on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year at Largo High School. “I’ve seen a huge improvement in RJ’s basketball skills. And he enjoys it too!” exclaimed Patrice.

Teams range from the beginner to the national level. The organization arose to satisfy a need for a basketball league empowering girls with personal development. “A group got together to play, and some of girls wanted to start a group. The rest started to fall into place,” shared Harrell. On Nov. 5, 2016, the girls met for their initial day of basketball for the 2016-17 winter season. LOG evaluates each player and lists her by grade and ability. Currently LOG has about 50 girls, ages 9-15, who are split into teams, where they train and compete against each other in an organized, friendly, and competitive atmosphere.

For more information about LOG visit www.leagueofgirlshoops.com.

Stacy Peterson, MS, CSCS, CHHC is a functional nutrition educator, holistic health coach, and strength and conditioning coach practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training for individuals of all ages and activities on the Hill. She offers an integrative aspect to everyone’s healthcare and performance team. For recipes, nutrition, and exercise tips sign up for the monthly newsletter at www.accelerationsports.net. For help in achieving your health and/or fitness goals contact Acceleration Sports by emailing stacy@accelerationsports.net or calling 805-704-7193.