January 22, 2006
Albany -- The Deerfield Windsor varsity basketball teams were on the court Saturday night, looking to continue a successful season.
The Knights and Lady Knights were back in the gym Sunday morning, but this time they were helping to ensure the continued strength of the program in the future.
For the past 23 years, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Deerfield Windsor school have had the opportunity to get a head start in the program with the Deerfield Junior Basketball Leagues.
Head coach Gordy Gruhl says, "It's been the backbone behind our success over the years. I feel like it starts these players developing at an early age, and it's what you have to do."
The current Deerfield high school players act as coaches to the over fifty players in the league, and coach Gruhl says the arrangement benefits everyone.
"I think the best way to learn something is to have to teach it, and that certainly helps our players develop a better understanding of the game."
Lady Knight Tracey Mitchell says, "They're having fun but they're learning at the same time, so that's good."
Almost all of the current varsity players came up through the junior leagues.
Senior Wes Knight says, "I did the junior program, and I made the varsity team. I know it helped me, and I hope it helps these guys."
Mitchell says, "I loved it. It was something you looked forward to. It's very competitive. You have a good time doing it and learn a lot."
And the program also helps build a bond between the present and future at Deerfield-Windsor.
Sixth-grader Trey Flynn says, "It's really fun. They're always joking around with us and stuff."
Knight adds, "Every day in school, even my players from last year come up to me and say 'Hey Wes,' and I think it's a good experience for them."
The seven team league plays Saturday mornings, with their playoffs set to begin February 4th.