West Maui Youth Basketball League ready for 31st season
LAHAINA – It is with a heavy heart that the West Maui Youth Basketball League tips off its 31st year, as the popular program dedicates the season to the memory of Joe Bento, who passed away this year in a tragic landscaping accident at his Honokahau property.
Bento was a most popular coach and administrator in the WMYBL from its inception back in 1983, and he became a fixture at Lahaina Civic Center as a consistent mentor to the youth of the community.
The show must go on, however, and Sean Gordon – now entering his second year at the top of one of Maui County’s outstanding youth athletic programs – has focused to maintain the transition at the top of the organization as longtime WMYBL Commissioner Don Rosenthal retired before last season.
“We’ve been hard at it to keep things going smoothly, and of course the great involvement of so many of the staff here at the Lahaina Civic Center, the veteran volunteer coaches and helpers, and the league sponsors has been a big, big support for me,” said Gordon from his recreation technician office at floor level of the sparkling LCC, as the facility readies for the nation’s biggest preseason collegiate basketball event, the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament, which takes place during Thanksgiving week.
Gordon reported that registration for the WMYBL on Nov. 7 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The program annually fills up to the waiting list level, with over 400 kids eagerly looking to fulfill their hoop dreams.
“We’ll continue with the four divisions – four teams in the Termites for preschoolers, eight teams in the Tiny Mites for first- and second-graders, 12 teams in the Peewees for third to fifth grade, and eight teams in the Midgets for sixth- to eighth-graders. We will also work in conjunction with the Menehune League teams,” he said.
Gordon praised the work and support of West Maui Parks and Recreation leaders Jeff Anderson and Alvin Kametani, staffers Yolanda Dukes and Ray Lasco, as well as longtime volunteer aides Casey Smythe, Nani Kenolio, Steve Ashfield, Al Dasugo, Michelle Gordon and Anela Gordon.
“There is a long list of coaches that come back year after year – some for more than 25 years; people like Krim Kenolio, Andy Alavazo, Arthur Jacinto, Lee Aaron Yap, Mike Bates, Karyn Murphy, Wenzel Arcangel, Mario Balagso, Ronnie Miranda, Al Dasugo and Ray Lasco – that really make a difference for the entire community,” he said.
“We also have a long list of sponsors that are so important in making this a successful program for the kids. It is made up of businesses, organizations, and individuals all across Maui that support the league. At the top of that list is the County of Maui, followed by major sponsors Leilani’s On The Beach and General Manager Jason Donez, Jim Falk Motors and the Lahaina Fire Department crew.”
Gordon noted that the program continues to follow the guidelines of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), which promotes sportsmanship for all players, parents and coaches involved in the WMYBL.
“We have had zero incidents since we’ve become a part of the NAYS program,” he said.
The league begins practices in mid-December, with tip-off games starting on Jan. 3 and leading up to the all-star games the first weekend of March.