West Maui Youth Basketball League ready to begin 32nd season
LAHAINA – The highly successful West Maui Youth Basketball League tips off its 32nd season in early January, and Sean Gordon has been around for almost all of them. The West Maui Parks and Recreation leader has been a player, coach, referee and scorekeeper for most of those years and now begins his third year as the commissioner of the league.
The WMYBL has become a youth athletic program model throughout Maui County and across the state, and the upcoming season will undoubtedly fulfill the hoop dreams of the 420 girls and boys signed up to play this season at the polished Lahaina Civic Center – home of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament.
“Yeah, we’re full in all of our divisions, and we have our usual waiting list,” said Gordon last week from his office at the LCC.
“We were worried that the new schedule for youth baseball (it has been changed from spring to winter) would conflict with our league, but so far everything looks okay. It looks like it will be the roughest on the coaches that like to do both baseball and basketball for the kids.”
Gordon explained that the league is divided into four divisions plus the boys and girls Menehune teams that will travel around the island to play games.
There will be four teams in the Termite Division for kindergarteners, eight teams in the Tiny Mite category for first- and second-graders, 12 teams in the Pee Wees for third- to fifth-graders, and seven Midget teams made up of sixth- to eighth-graders. The Menehune teams are made up of select players from the middle school age level.
“We’ve been able to recruit enough coaches, referees, scorekeepers and officials to keep the league running smoothly,” he said.
Gordon praised the dedication of some of the coaches that have been involved in the WMYBL for decades, including Krim Kenolio, Chris Salem, Lori Kaufman, Ray Lasco, Karyn Murphy, Andy Alavazo and Jeff Locke.
“Some of them have been coaching in this league for 30 years! It’s really amazing to see how this has all turned out,” he said.
“We really have good energy going on with the league, and we get plenty of help from the volunteers as coaches and league officials, and also from a long list of program sponsors. We get a lot of support from the County of Maui Parks and Recreation Department and our District Superintendant Danae Marin, as well as our Recreation Leader Alvin Kametani. I surely couldn’t do this without the help of Yolanda Dukes, Nani Kenolio, Kupono Hong, Steve Ashfield, Casey Smythe, Michelle Gordon and Al Dasugo.”
Gordon reported that there are over 40 sponsors of the league, and many of them – Jim Falk Motors, Leilani’s on the Beach, Thad Henry Design Group, West Maui Motors, James Ward Contractor, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, UFO Parasail, Royal Lahaina Resort, Bank of Hawaii, and Nagasako Okazu Ya Deli – have contributed greatly for decades to the success and welfare of West Side keiki.
“Our sincere thanks goes out to all of the sponsors,” he said.
All teams will begin practice in mid-December, with the Termite Division learning concepts of basketball and participating in scrimmages later on. The Tiny Mites play games but do not keep score, and the Peewees and Midgets play full-court contests for league standings. Regular season games run through the end of February, with the all-star games scheduled for the second Saturday in March.