Since beginning in November of 2011, NNSR has been offering the communities of Sparks and Reno an opportunity to remain active through a number of its leagues and programs. And one of its most popular leagues is youth basketball.
In Sparks, almost 300 participants make up the youth leagues from kindergarten through sixth grade, along with 50 kids participating at the middle school level.
“The turnout for the winter basketball programs has been fantastic,” said Sundeen, Director of NNSR. “I get a lot of informal feedback just from talking to people. It varies because you’re going to have your issues one way or the other sometimes, but most of our people are just happy that we’re still providing a youth basketball program. They enjoy the premise behind the program and that every kids gets to play. Our philosophy is for them to have fun and learn the game and our volunteer coaches have done a really good job of making sure that happens.”
Sundeen, who also ran the same program for the YMCA before it closed, said there is a familiarity with how the leagues are operated. While the product on the court for NNSR has been a success, Sundeen said there have been a handful of hurdles to overcome in comparison to his time with the YMCA.
“There’s not a ton of differences, there’s just a bit more challenges,” he said. “One of the biggest differences and challenges is that the building is now Excel’s building, so I’m kind of at their mercy some times and have to schedule around some of their events, which is a little bit challenging.
“Ultimately though that is a small challenge as it goes with my ultimate goal of continuing to provide a recreation basketball program. So I’ll take the good with the bad because I still have a place to run the program. Having to deal with those things is just a minor issue. Other than that, it’s just trying to learn what works and what doesn’t work so we can continue to try to improve the program itself.”
Part of the difficulty that comes with scheduling league play within in another organization’s building is there is no real room for expansion. While Sundeen is happy with program numbers, he said NNSR couldn’t really afford to take in more players.
“It’s not like I could have taken more participation because the schedule is pretty tight as it is,” Sundeen said. “So I couldn’t really take a lot more registration than what I currently have. The challenge that I face the most that I need to try to improve on is to find somehow and some way for more gym space so that more kids can sign up.”
Northern Nevada Sports and Recreation will soon have to arrange court time for a whole new group of teams. With the eight-week program for the youth leagues wrapping up, and the boys middle school league finishing the first week of April, NNSR is now getting set to prepare for its spring sports season.
Outside of the gym, NNSR is offering a flag football league set to kick off on the week of April 1. Inside the gym, adult 5-on-5 men and women’s basketball leagues, as well as a 3-on-3 league and co-ed volleyball are set to begin April 8. The main growing area Sundeen is hoping for though is within the NNSR’s high school basketball league, which starts March 18.
“Last year I had three teams, but I’m hoping for more,” Sundeen said. “Recreation programs for middle school and high school programs are so underserved. My biggest challenge there is just getting the information out to the student.
“That’s the hardest thing, just how do you get that information to those students. It’s definitely a program that is wanted and needed for those age groups because if you don’t play on the high school or middle school teams, then there’s not a lot of rec programs for those kids to participate in. So we’re trying to create kind of a niche there with both those age groups so kids that don’t make the team have something else that they can do.”