Overlake has Record-Setting Number of MS Basketball Teams
Enthusiasm for basketball amongst our middle schoolers is at an all-time high as there are a total of 11 teams taking the court this season.
“I think there are a couple of reasons for this,” explains Mike Fine, MS Athletic Director. “One, kids are looking for an activity they enjoy, can do with their friends, is immediately after school, and is fun. I also think having a quarter of the school year under their belt also helps kids to feel more grounded and comfortable about having the courage to “step forward” and show they are willing to try and play.”
The eagerness of our student athletes might be a bit through careful cultivation of the program- knowing that the more Middle School students who go out for basketball, the more will hopefully turn out for the sport in Upper School.
One strategy to make the Middle School basketball season enticing to students and their families is by offering the sport for two, shorter seasons.
“This started about five years ago when the MS Athletic Director at the time looked at a situation where boys and girls where only playing in one season and then sitting for two months," explains Fine. "Changing to the two-season format it increased the opportunity for students to play, provides more exposure and coaching to them, and the kids generally enjoy playing over both seasons."
Parents also enjoy the added structure to the two seasons. “Having the teams together over the two seasons provides more consistent contact days,” explains Fine. “This provides consistent practice instruction that a coach can build on. Having regular meeting days also provides players and families the ability to schedule other activities, appointments, and class-related work.”
But with so many teams, there needs to be that many coaches to mold each team- so off the bench comes a familiar face - Head of School Matt Horvat. “I asked Mike Fine if he needed a coach and he said ‘yes.’ I was assigned to the Orange Team (5th grade boys). I could not be more excited about coaching this fun and energetic group of players. The Tuesday and Thursday coaching times are the highlight of my week,” beams Horvat.
I would imagine having their coach be the man with the “corner office” on campus be intimidating for our youngest members of our community, but Horvat says that trepidation went away within minutes. “I think initially they were cautious with me, but after five minutes this went away and now, they bring who they are to each practice.”
So, what does Coach Horvat hope to achieve with his young team this year? “I hope the players learn about basketball, learn about what they are capable of, and learn how to be a good teammate.”
And perhaps learning to love the sport will indeed payoff in the years to come. “Looking at the Girls Varsity team, the majority of them played basketball with us at the MS level,” says Fine. “On the boys’ side, there is a high number of boys playing the US program, at a variety of levels, who played in the MS program. I am not sure how that transfers to wins and losses right now, but I know that having players who have played together before taking the court as freshman is a great advantage.”
Check out a recent MS b-ball practice in the Gym.