Although the season may be over for the Cougars, it does not mean that there isn’t hard work left to be done on the hardwood. This time though, Spanish Springs is starting at the introduction stages of the game.
In hopes of creating a passion for basketball in the area as well as establishing the Cougars’ program beyond the high school level, Spanish Springs coach Kyle Penney started the Spanish Springs Youth Developmental League.
“We needed to do something to improve basketball in our area,” Penney said. “Every year we try to do camps and summer camps, and we’ve changed the dates on those every year because of numbers. With some elementary schools being on the year-round system and some being multi-track and us being on summer break, we’ve moved dates every year. Then we’ve also had to compete with football and SYFL, as well as baseball and youth wrestling. Those are all huge pieces in the community here and we’re lacking a basketball piece. So we just decided this year we have to stop making excuses about it and do something about it.
“So we decided we’re going to sacrifice our Saturday practices to try to start a developmental league for little kids to get them excited about basketball and Spanish Springs basketball in general. We want to see if we can start teaching them basketball and as they get older start teaching them our philosophies and beliefs so that they’re more prepared once they come here.”
Since the first week in January, the Spanish Springs youth D-league has had 56 kids sign up from first to eighth grade. with the majority of participants being first, second and third graders. Every Saturday, those youths take to the Spanish Springs gym for two hours, honing their basketball skills. While those numbers have been a promising start, Penney said what truly makes the developmental league a success is his own high school players taking over as coaches.
“What makes this thing so successful is our players,” Penney said. “We require our varsity and JV players to be there and they work really well with the kids. That’s just another success story to our season. Our kids are just phenomenal people. They have great grades and they’re never in trouble. I never worry about them being in trouble. They’re just very reliable.”
As the youngsters take to the court and learn from their high school counterparts, the kids are not the only ones enjoying the new developmental league. Feedback from parents has also been positive.
“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm from not only the kids, but the parents as well,” Penney said. “I don’t get a chance to talk to every parent, but when I’ve talked to a few parents at the D-league, they seem really excited about it. So the response that I’ve heard from most parents is they can’t wait till next year to start spreading the word and getting more people involved and that’s essentially what we need.”