LIHUE — Saturday is the final round of games for the Hoopsters basketball league that started playing in January at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School covered playground.
The Hoopsters include more than 260 aspiring basketball keiki in kindergarten to Grade 3 who are broken down into the K-1 Mini Hoopsters division, and the Grade 2-3 Junior Hoopsters division. Games for Saturday start at 8 a.m. with the K-1 division with the final games tipping off from 1:30 p.m. for the Grades 2-3 division.
“This is a learning experience for all keiki who participate,” said Melanie Okamoto of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation that oversees the developmental basketball program. “The kids learn the basic skills, and continue learning and growing in the sport as the season progresses. They become ready for the next phase which is the Grades 5-6, and Grades 7-8 program that is scheduled to start at the end of February.”
Registration for this program will start shortly.
Okamoto got help from Parks and Recreation staffers Clyde Vito, Chad Koga, and Bronson Carvalho in keeping the ball on the court and honing the young players into basketball players.
With the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center shut down for repairs, games are contested on Saturday mornnings at the CKMS covered playground.
“We were lucky to be able to get the covered court,” Carvalho said. “It took a lot of effort, but it was worth it because the location enables the kids from Kapaa an opportunity to participate. This league is for everyone, and we want to make it so everyone who wants to play can have that opportunity.”
Contests are always well-attended by supportive parents and families, siblings who happen to be participating in older aged leagues, and relatives who happen to be coaches for other leagues, and even in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation league. Many of these fans become mentors for the fledging players as coaches, court officials, and sometimes coaches’ helpers.
“This is what it’s supposed to be — a learning experience for everyone,” Okamoto said.
Tipoff for the first games start at 8 a.m. with the final games starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.