Youth basketball league enjoys strong community support
LAHAINA — The West Maui Youth Basketball League tipped off its 26th season on Jan. 9 to the delight of the 450 kids and their families involved in this West Side jewel of a youth sports organization.
Dandy Don Rosenthal maintains the leadership post of the program that has become a model for many youth athletic organizations across Maui County and throughout the state.
The league serves as the foremost family activity during the winter months here on the West Side.
Rosenthal is assisted this season by Steve Ashfield, Yolanda Dukes, Sean Gordon, Myron Rosenthal, Al Dasugo, Judy and Jim Peterson and Andy Alavaso.
The league is divided into three divisions, plus the Menehune League rosters that travel to compete with other middle school-age teams across Maui.
The Tiny Mite Division for kids ages 5-7 has ten teams; the Peewees for players 8-10 also has ten teams; and the Midgets for ages 11 through eighth grade has eight teams.
According to Commish Rosenthal, all teams will ten games leading up to the All-Star Game and awards presentation day on March 13.
“I am so happy with how things are working out with this league,” he said last week from his court side office at the Lahaina Civic Center, which is also the home of the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament, considered the top event of preseason collegiate hoops.
“I am most appreciative of our staff of coaches that has come to be on the same page in regards to our sportsmanship and ethics initiatives. This is the important part of our program where the kids — and their families — are taught the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship and ethics within a basketball atmosphere. We want to promote a positive attitude in all who participate in the league, including players, coaches, parents and all who support the program, and I think we are succeeding in this. Over the last three seasons, we’ve had very few incidents of people getting overly excited or agitated at the games. It’s really been nice to see our sportsmanship program taking root in this league.”
Coach Don continued by thanking the coaches and the staff for being mentors for the youth of West Maui.
“At registration time, I was a little worried that we didn’t have enough coaches for all of the kids we had signed up, but sure enough, people heard of the situation and stepped up to fill our needs,” he said.
“Some of them have been with us for all 26 years, and that is really something!”
On a sad note, Rosenthal added that the current season will be dedicated to the memory of Kahi Sindiong, who passed away last July.
“Kahi had been a coach in this league for 11 years, from 1998-2009, and had made his mark as a gentle, kindhearted mentor of the kids on his teams. He was one of our most requested coaches and was voted three times as ‘Coach of the Year’ by his peers. He represented the essence of our program in the sportsmanship, teamwork and ethics he promoted to his players. We will sorely miss his presence here in the gym, but we will remember him with his name on the staff and coaches’ shirts, and he will always be in our hearts and prayers,” Rosenthal concluded.