The District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation finished its 2017-2018 winter season Saturday with an exciting slate of games that highlighted the basketball talent of city youth.
Held at the Lamond Recreation Center, the day’s games featured boys and girls in seven different age ranges from 7-18. Both the champion and second-place teams took home trophies, with the MVP from each winning team also being celebrated with an individual trophy.
While the spirit of competition and athletic achievement were celebrated, Tony Strong, the Department of Parks and Recreation’s youth basketball coordinator, stressed that the program is about more than just competition.
“It’s about giving them a structured program, real and basic fundamental basketball skills, and a safe place,” he said.
Strong said the program has grown throughout the years to serve thousands of boys and girls in developmental and competitive leagues.
Everette “Coach Chuck” Scott, who coached the U-18 championship team, has been working with DPR for almost 20 years and said part of the enjoyment from participating is watching the development of the young men on and off the court.
“We teach life skills through the sport of basketball,” he said. “We take them from being young boys to responsible teenagers to responsible young men.”
For certain young athletes, the joy ultimately was in victory and success. U-18 champion and MVP Jalen Scott, 18, of the Hillcrest rec team said he’s been playing basketball since he was 4 and is happy to see his hard work pay off.
Scott recently graduated high school and enrolled in Prince George’s Community College, where he plans to study sports medicine and join their basketball team next season.
Scott was confident before Saturday’s game that he would have a successful performance.
“It was the energy when I walked in the gym with my teammates,” he said. “I said, ‘we’re going to take this.’”
One of Scott’s biggest fans, his grandmother Barbara Scott, has also been pleased with his development.
“He used to be really timid when he started out but over the years he has really grown and improved his game,” she said.