Youth Basketball League dribbles into the new season

Jan 24, 2024

When TJ Rose was a kid, his family could only afford for him to play one sport — basketball.

Rose played for many years in town and bonded with the coach at the time, who was the former president of the Youth Basketball league and who showed him kindness and support throughout his time on the team.

Years later, reading a hand-written letter from one of the kids he coached detailing how much his mentorship meant to him, Rose said he felt proud he has been able to pay it forward and make an impact of his own in these young athletes’ lives.  

Now, it’s been 10 years that Rose has coached, working to teach kids the value of getting in shape, fundamentals and the plays of the game. In that time, the program has seen some changes.

There are 85 kids enrolled in the now Gleason Family YMCA led Youth Basketball League this year. 

This is the second year that the YMCA has run this program. Last year, the town’s Junior Basketball Association could no longer be supported, so the YMCA stepped in and is its sole operator this season.

There are 40 kids in the “College Division,” which includes students in grades two through four, and 45 kids in the “Pro Division,” which includes grades five through seven in addition to a few eighth graders who may not have made the high school team, according to Senior Program Director Lu Brito.

Practice takes place once a week in the YMCA and Wareham Middle School basketball courts, with an accompanying game every Saturday. Brito said that all the teams in each division compete against one another for a total of eight to 10 games, which will be followed up with playoffs, according to Brito.

He said the Youth Basketball League “is competitive, but we try to focus on just the developmental and love of the game.”

Brito said the new league pairs well with the YMCA’s Drills and Skills Program, which recently finished up its season run.

The teams are co-ed and consist of kids from Wareham and surrounding towns, according to Brito. There are four College teams and five Pro teams.

“We try to be inclusive of everybody,” Brito said. “We want to give every kid an opportunity to play — and it’s not just about winning. It’s about playing the game right, having fun, meeting new friends and just learning some great life lessons.”

Rose leads the Bucks team this year from the Pro division. 

He said his prime focus as a coach is building team chemistry and staying positive, adding it’s important for “the players to bond and have a vested interest in each other's successes and failures.”

“I preach positive reinforcement at all costs,” Rose said. “Stay positive with each other and build each other up — never breaking each other down.”

Rose said the biggest challenge in coaching sports right now is the lack of resources, adding how it can be tricky to run a program that is volunteer based. 

He said he is thankful that Brito and the YMCA stepped in to help keep the basketball program running. 

Rose said he couldn’t say enough how “happy and proud I am of Lu for doing that and taking this on because he is a very busy man.”

Brito said he appreciates the many sponsors who have also helped make it possible.

Rose said he is “excited to continue being a part of it and helping him out in any way I can and being there for the kids in the community as a whole.”

Coach Walter Crumbley said, “The YMCA basketball league has undoubtedly exceeded my expectations in every aspect. I have been thoroughly impressed by the quality of organization and the passion displayed by everyone involved.”

“I am excited to see what the winter session has in store,” Crumbley added. “I have no doubt that it will be marked by the same level of excellence that I have come to associate with the YMCA league. I am really looking forward to seeing the kids grow not only as athletes, but also as individuals who value teamwork, sportsmanship, and personal development.”