Little Dribblers, in its second year of independent operation since the YMCA left, wrapped up its season over the weekend, crowning champions on both the boys’ and girls’ side of the first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and fifth and sixth grade divisions.
Last year, the league was headed up by Sealy girls’ varsity basketball head coach Anthony Branch but this year, he received some help.
Lori Baber and Lesley Blanks developed a close friendship through coaching their sons up the ranks in but shouldered a much larger load this time around.
“Lori and I have been coaching our boys, who are in sixth grade now, they’re best friends, since they were in first grade,” Blanks said in an interview at the end of last week. “We didn’t coach together those first few years, but we really met through basketball. We’ve become really good friends and I don’t know how we met Coach Branch but Lori used to be a really good junior high coach so we love the sport and I think she started talking to Coach Branch and we volunteered last year,” and the rest is history.
She mentioned the league increased in participation by about a third and she hopes for more of the same in next year’s campaign.
“We had a huge amount of kids, right around 280 players,” Blanks said. “We had 33 teams and we played 18 games each Saturday. A huge amount of kids and lots of new coaches which was awesome. I think last year we had close to 200 players, probably less. So we grew by about 30% this year and we hope to grow next year as well.”
Some of that growth, she hopes, comes in the form of even more adult participation although she’s been pleased with their efforts so far.
“We would like to have a couple more board members to help us out with getting some sponsorships so we can get some new goals, we constantly need new basketballs,” Blanks said. “We would like to have some more practice time for our older kids, especially in the third through sixth grade groups, they had one practice a week this year we’d really like there to be two.”
The existing sponsors, Citizens State Bank, Texas Farm Bureau: Chad Hugo, The John R. Selman & Maggie B. Selman Charitable Foundation and the Mark A. Chapman Foundation, were able to provide some of the new goals, score clocks, basketballs, trophies and medals that were used this year and Blanks looks forward to even more possibilities next year.
Something on the horizon of a much nearer future is Little Dribblers Night at the boys’ varsity basketball home finale next Tuesday against Royal at Sealy High School.
“We are hoping to have Little Dribblers Night at the last boys’ basketball home game (Feb. 18 vs Royal) so that’s something we’d like to see,” Blanks said for other league improvements. “Maybe a free-throw contests or a coaches game, stuff like that to get kids involved and excited about the sport.”