For The Tribune
You don’t need hardwood to work on your basketball skills.
All that’s necessary is a ball and a hoop.
Grant Smith had a busy summer and he wasn’t able to attend the Seymour Owls boys’ basketball camp in early June.
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But because basketball is one of his favorite sports, he said he enjoys playing in the Little Owls Summer Outdoor Basketball League at the Seymour High School tennis courts.
“It kind of helps me make new friends for one thing, and it helps me sports-wise,” Smith said.
Seymour assistant basketball coaches Jeff Nicholson and Steve Bush are running the league.
The league was divided into three divisions, Grades 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6.
Nicholson said 60 boys played Monday night on three different tennis courts at Seymour High School.
The fifth- and sixth-graders are playing on 10-foot rims, while the baskets are lower for the younger groups.
“It’s an opportunity to get the kids out and play up-and-down and have fun,” Nicholson said.
“We had our camp the first week after school and that was about the fundamentals and all of that. This is just to get the parents out and see them sitting around the court in the chairs, just a great atmosphere to have the parents out to see their kids play a little bit and the kids just get to have fun.
“We have the high school kids refereeing and coaching the teams and it makes for a couple of fun nights. We keep a clock and they keep score so it’s competitive. We play 12 minutes, and then they get a water break.”
The final night of the league will be tonight, and the players are placed on different teams each night.
Former Owls head coach Kyle Clough started the league when he came to Seymour four years ago.
He resigned as coach and teacher at SHS at the end of the school year and returned to Michigan to coach.
“We came in and one of our main jobs with Kyle was to really establish our youth program,” Bush said. “This is one of the staples of our youth program. It’s a celebration of all their hard work. They get to come out and have a really fun time under the lights on the tennis courts.
“This day and age kids don’t get to do this like they used to so we kind of had to create that atmosphere for them. Times have changed so we get them together and play ‘old school’ playground basketball, and it’s a fun time for everybody involved.”
Bush said the grades 1-2 and 3-4 divisions enjoy shooting on the lower baskets.
“Anything to keep them at their developmental level and make the game fun and exciting and bring it down to their level,” he said.
One of the high school players helping the younger kids is incoming senior Tyler Bloom.
“It’s just more about letting them have fun,” Bloom said. “We’re not too worried about if their shot is perfect. We’re just letting them play on teams with other kids so they can get that experience.
“It’s fun being out here, and it’s fun being involved with the community. It helps them a lot, I think, when they see the older kids out here and seeing that we care.”
The school is still without a varsity coach for the coming season, but most of the players that are expected to make up SHS teams next winter played a lot of basketball in June — including participating in a league at Salem, and in a shootout at Waldron.
Bloom estimates that the Owls played in about 15 games in June.
Trevor Goecker said he enjoyed playing games on the tennis courts.
“I like shooting, dribbling and running,” said Goecker, who also said he enjoys playing baseball.