The YMCA of Greater Long Beach recently completed a new pilot program for girls’ basketball, offering a new and unique opportunity for local hoopers.

According to Sports Program Coordinator Miles Davis, the YMCA has traditionally offered co-ed leagues for basketball, but this new league was created in an effort to expand opportunities for girls interested in learning the sport.

“One thing in talking to parents and just me observing is a lot of times the girls don’t get the opportunity to have the ball or dribble,” Davis said about the need for a new league just for girls. “This gives them an opportunity to work on their individual skills … Talking to the girls after the season, they really liked the opportunity that they had to be able to shoot the ball more and be the team leaders.”

The pilot edition of the girls’ basketball league had three teams, with a total of 31 athletes from ages 9-12. The league ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 7 at the Lakewood Family YMCA, but there will be another season starting in early 2024 for those interested in signing up.

While club sports leagues have gained popularity over the past few decades, there are limited options available for girls’ basketball. And, as Associate Executive Director Stacy Valdez pointed out, having a dedicated league for girls’ basketball is uncommon at the Y.

“There are some different leagues that are outside of the YMCA that are dedicated to girls, but they’re not as popular or as prevalent in the community as the boys’ club teams,” Valdez explained. “But at the YMCA, it’s very hit and miss, there’s nothing consistent. I think us being intentional about creating a girls league is not the norm.”

Davis said he received good feedback on the pilot league, which he hopes will expand to a longer season with more teams in 2024.

“A lot of the girls feel a little bit nervous when they play with the boys, and one of the girls said she felt more confident out there,” said Davis. “And overall, I think it was very positive. A lot of parents mentioned that they would sign up again.”

The cost to join the league will be $230 for YMCA members and $300 for non-members, with financial assistance offered for those in need.

For parents interested in having their daughter join the league next year, they can sign up to receive more information here.

The Lakewood Family YMCA is located at 5835 E. Carson St. in Lakewood. For more information on the YMCA’s sports program, email [email protected].