Sportsmanship the focus of West Maui Youth Basketball League
LAHAINA — With the Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team winning the state championship last season, hoops fever is definitely taking over Zip Code 96761.
Along with the girls’ milestone accomplishment, the Luna boys took the Maui Interscholastic League title to complete the Valley Isle sweep for Lahainaluna.
So hoops are hot here on the West Side, and once again the West Maui Youth Basketball League is maxed out with a waiting list of some 85 kids hoping for a spot in the program.
It is the 27th year for the fast break kids league and the nearly 500 boys and girls that signed up to play.
League Commissioner Don Rosenthal, along with veteran staffers Steve Ashfield, Yolanda Dukes, Sean Gordon, Al Dasugo, Myron Rosenthal, Jim and Judy Peterson, Lisa Auwae and Phyllis Rosenthal, hustled since sign-ups in November to organize the league and get the ball rolling for the tip-off on Jan. 8.
League play runs through the end of February, with the All-Star Games and Awards Ceremony scheduled for March 12.
According to Coach Don, the league is divided up into three divisions — the Tiny Mites for boys and girls in kindergarten through second grade, Peewees (grades 3-5) and Midgets (sixth- through eighth-graders) — along with the Menehune League traveling rosters for intermediate school-age children.
The teams will play eight to 12 games, all on the sparkling hard court at Lahaina Civic Center, home of the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament that is recognized as collegiate basketball’s top preseason event.
The West Maui Parks and Recreation Department and West Maui Youth Athletic Association, along with countless Valley Isle businesses and individuals, sponsor the league.
The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) provides the mission statement and guidelines for the program, which state that the program is charged to promote sportsmanship, ethics and fair play in a basketball environment.
All coaches within the program are certified with NAYS, and all parents read and sign an agreement at registration to abide by the sportsmanship and ethics guidelines of the organization.
“Our number one goal is to promote sportsmanship first and basketball second,” stated Commish Rosenthal last week.
“Coach Todd (Rickard) and Coach John (Dudley) up at Lahainaluna don’t have to worry about attitude problems, as most of the Luna players have come up through this program and have learned the ethics that become the pride and togetherness of their teams. Our goal is to change the mindset of the parents of these kids to understand that sportsmanship is the most important skill to learn as a child in youth sports activities. I feel like we are accomplishing that mission.”
“God has a hand on this program, and we are blessed to have the type of people that come back year after year to coach or donate support for the league. We have people like Al Dasugo, who has been with us for all 27 years of the program; Mario Balagso (20 years); Ray Lasco; Bud Ledbetter; Brian Arakawa; Crim Kenolio; and Ron Miranda that have all coached for many, many years,” he continued.
“We are so grateful to all of these dedicated people and the sponsors, the majority of them returning supporters of the league.”