For many years youth basketball at Bethel consisted of a 3rd-6th grade boys and girls recreation league. The league played on Saturdays and consisted of Bethel teams and rarely played against other schools. In addition to this, the 5th and 6th grades had a “select” (no cuts) team that played on Sundays against other schools in a league named “5-star.” Kids who played on that team were also required to play in the recreation league. This was necessary to ensure the recreation league had enough players. At that time Bethel was still the small school many remember.
Two years ago, three Bethel teams were created that competed in a popular Dayton area school league known as, Dayton Metro. The kids on these teams still participated in the Bethel Recreation League as was the norm. However, with the increase in student population, this became unnecessary. Participation in Dayton Metro also brought more interest from parents. Last year, with the approval of the AD and the varsity basketball coaches, the program expanded. Metro teams for boys and girls 4th-6th grade were added and the 5th-6th no longer competed in the “5-star” league. This part of the program has taken on the title of ”Future Bees”. Official tryouts were held and between 8-10 kids were kept on each team. The kids who were cut or did not want to play in that league would then compete in the Bethel Recreation League. This established a program that met the needs of ALL Bethel Elementary students interested in basketball.
The next step was addressing some concerns with the recreation league. Youth sports are always at the mercy of volunteer coaches. Finding knowledgeable and available coaches is difficult. Once the Metro teams were added, that meant even more coaches were needed. In the past few years, there have been numerous examples of the recreation league players not learning anything other than “plays” and not focusing on the fundamentals. It is imperative for kids at this age to learn shooting, passing, pivoting, cutting, screening, and fundamental defense. It is even more important when you consider that since the inception of the metro teams, the recreation league generally consists of less experienced kids.
The interest that the metro teams garnered brought requests to add additional teams. This is a signal that the program is headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, the limited amount of gym space/time for practices and games currently prevents this. Bethel is one of the fastest-growing school districts in Ohio. We have to assume that every year more kids will sign up. Expanding the recreation league below 3rd grade and/or adding any metro teams can not realistically happen until the new elementary school is built. Until then there will continue to be one team per grade (3rd/4th/5th/6th) for boys and girls in the metro league and the recreation league will consist of any 3rd-6th grader at Bethel.