I’m having a ball watching 11-year-old girls play basketball

Photo credit: @UAFindlayNews

By Jerry Feitelberg

As a young man many, many years ago, I never thought women would be playing basketball. When I was in college, the only sports played by the women were field hockey and archery. The thought of women playing basketball never entered my mind.

However, the world has changed over the last 50 or 60 years, and with the passage of Title IX, women have now become active in soccer, ice hockey, basketball, rowing, lacrosse, and baseball and softball. I remember women competing for Olympic medals in gymnastics, figure skating, skiing, track and field, and swimming.

In the past 20 years or so, women at the University of Tennessee, the University of Connecticut, and Stanford University have won NCAA championships. The Women’s rowing team at my alma mater, Bates College, won the Division III National championship in 2015. It was the first national championship for this college in any sport, and that included all the sports that the men competed in, too.

So all this brings me to my story. About two weeks ago, I was invited to see a game between Almaden Country Day School and the Los Altos Christian schools’ sixth-grade girls. These young women, none of them over five-feet-tall, played on a regulation 94-foot court and the basket was not lowered at all. It remained at 10-feet. The only adjustment made was that the free throw line was moved in about five feet, so that the girls could make the free throw from 10-feet instead of the normal 15-foot charity stripe,

There were two referees present and the time of the game was shortened to three 8-minute quarters of play. Also, it was running time. The coaches tried to give every girl on the team a chance to play. Each team wanted to win, but the coaches also made sure that the girls were having fun and that they learn how to be good sports and be gracious should they lose the game.

One has to remember that the girls are not going to set a screen, there would not be any pick and rolls or give and go as they do at the college and pro level. None of that stuff here.There would be no one-on-one or isolation. What the girls did was run and pass the ball and try to get off the shot. Some used the backboard to bank the ball in, and some made a basket getting the ball up high enough to go in without touching the rim. They were stealing the ball and trying to block shots. They were aggressive players and fouled their opponents.

My lovely companion’s granddaughter had a nice game as she made two baskets and had three rebounds as Almaden Country Day School skunked the Los Altos Christian Lions 25-0. After the game, the girls shook hands and gave hugs to their opponents and a good time was had by not only the girls but by their parents and grandparents.

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