For 72 Golden Gate area children, traveling is not necessary to play basketball. It comes to them.
Bill Carufe, Sports Club K6 youth sports director, said that for the past four years, K6 Basketball has offered scholarships for those young athletes who want to play in a youth sports league.
The problem was that the children were unable to get transportation to the North Naples practice and game locations.
“In spite of financial incentives to participate, we were unable to get as many Golden Gate children as we wanted to play in the North Naples league locations, so we brought the league to them,” Carufe said.
Through a partnership with Collier County Parks and Recreation and Golden Gate High School coaching staff, Sports Club has brought the K6 basketball concept to the Golden Gate Community Center off Santa Barbara Boulevard.
Carufe and Vicki Wilson, the community center’s director, put together a plan to make a league viable for Golden Gate children.
Sports Club provided $6,700 in scholarships to provide an athletic enrichment opportunity. The league is divided in three divisions: development, with first and second graders; junior varsity, with third and fourth graders; and varsity, made up of fifth- and sixth-grade children.
Games are played on Saturday mornings, with Golden Gate High School coaches and its junior varsity players coaching the teams and officiating games. Other K6 teams travel to Golden Gate to play the teams on their home court.
Each Wednesday night, Carufe and Golden Gate assistant coaches, including Greg Anderson, Guy Hensley, Garrett Hull, Matt Dembrow, Mark Wise and John Mesadeau conduct practices that emphasize skills, teamwork and basketball concepts.
Anderson sees the program as a benefit to Golden Gate High School basketball.
“When I interviewed for the basketball position at the high school I knew I had to stress that Golden Gate children needed to be involved at an earlier age if we wanted to have real long-term success,” he said. “The Golden Gate Community Center and the Sports Club K6 League turned out to be a perfect partnership to provide kids in our community with quality basketball instruction at a young age, which is something most of them were lacking.”
Carufe said K6’s basketball concept differs from most sports leagues as the teams have trained coaches and practices are operated in a clinic-style format so that all players get instruction in skills and concepts of basketball.
Teams are made up by region and school. The season runs from December to March 1. There are 380 players in the league.
Sports Club also holds an elite league in the spring for grades 3-7, divided by abilities and a K6 basketball camp at the end of June. For more information go to www.sportsclubnaples.org.