Kingston gearing up girls-only league

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By Goose Lindsay

Changes are coming for girls in Kingston wanting to play basketball.

For years, girls in the Kingston community were at a disadvantage playing in co-ed leagues with the Kingston Optimist Club (KOC), but that will all change this year as KOC will be having separate leagues for boys and girls with the girls league playing their games at the new gym at Cherokee Middle School.

“This is something Kingston has needed for a long time,” said Matt Fritts, a volunteer with KOC that is doing much of the coordination with the new league. “A lot of girls were tired of playing co-ed basketball and were quitting because they’d be the only girl on a team or they wouldn’t be playing much.”

While simply getting more girls play is a plus on its own, Fritts says KOC is also getting input from Cherokee Middle School head coach Ashlee Brackett and Roane County High School head coach Connie Guinn in an effort to make the program a true feeder program for the middle school and high school teams.

“It’s been 20 years since RCHS has been to a state tournament and that’s too long,” Fritts said. “We want to make this a true feeder program. We want to teach them the fundamentals at a young age and we’ll be doing the same drills that Coach Brackett and Coach Guinn use in middle school and high school.”

Coach Guinn is also excited about the formation of the new league and vows to help any way she can.

“I’m excited that the girls will have their own league,” Guinn said. “I think this will be big for our program. I can’t coach a team, but I’ll pop in on their games on Saturdays when I can and I’ll do anything I can to help them out.

“I talked with Coach (Johnny) Morgan at McMinn Central. They won the state tournament last year and have been to four straight state tournaments. He says it all starts with your feeder programs, even before middle school and I agree with that.

“We’ll be having a clinic here on Saturday, November 5th and I’d like to invite all the coaches to come to that. If we can teach these girls the fundamentals they’ll need for high school when they’re eight and nine years old then we’ll all benefit in the long run.”

Both KOC basketball leagues will start playing in November and the season will run thru at least February. 

KOC is currently holding sign-ups every Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Cherokee baseball field press box. 

For more information about the KOC basketball leagues, please call league president Michael Phillips at (865) 603-2454 or Fritts at (865) 387-7798.

 “We’re also looking for area businesses to help sponsor our league and anyone interested in helping can call us at those numbers,” Fritts added.