In a file photo from 2003, Fort Defiance’s Heather Claytor blocks a shot by Buffalo Gap’s Becky Burns. Both women plan to play in this summer’s YMCA women’s basketball league (Photo: File Photo)
STAUNTON – Becky Burns has been playing in pick-up basketball games on Friday nights in New Hope when there are enough other women that want to play.
She plays with some other former high school players — Heather Claytor, Sam Long, Brittany Campbell and Sabrina Switzer, among others — but there’s not always enough players to have a game every week.
That’s one of the reasons Burns, who is now an assistant girls basketball coach at Wilson Memorial, is excited that the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA is starting a women’s basketball league this summer.
“I think our biggest problem in the area is consistency,” Burns said. “If you look at our area, we have so many girls who play.”
The league will start June 18 and the regular season will run for six weeks. They’re also planning on three weeks of playoffs. The plan is for two divisions — one for players from 16 to 29 and another for those 30 and over. The cost is $45 for YMCA members and $55 for non-members. The cutoff for signing up is June 9.
Last year the Y had a co-ed league, but Eddie Santiago, a program director at the Y, said they had maybe three or four women who played.
“We just thought about it and said, maybe the girls deserve their own league,” Santiago said. “It would just be really cool to see the females get down and dirty and play some ball.”
As of now, the games will be on Tuesdays from 6-10 p.m., although Santiago said they are trying to add a second night, perhaps Mondays. Working around the current gym schedule at the Y is tricky because it stays busy.
Stuart Hall girls coach LaShaunda Roberson, who played her high school ball for Lee High, is planning on playing in the league. Basketball is her way to relieve some stress and also gives her a way to stay active and physically fit.
“I wanted to show young ladies coming up, that basketball doesn’t have to end for them after the high school and college level,” Roberson said. “They can play as long as they feel they have the ability to do so.”
Roberson likes the idea of a women’s-only league as opposed to a co-ed league.
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“I feel that the overall play of the game is different for men and women,” she said. “Men tend to be taller, which allows for dunking and above the rim action, whereas women play more below the rim and this could lead to more injuries in a co-ed league.”
Burns agrees that it’s good for the women to have a league of their own because of the different styles in the men’s and women’s games. She’s excited to finally see a league developing in Staunton.
“There are enough girls in our area who really love the game,” Burns said. “But by the time you’re out of high school it falls off. There’s no option [for most]. There aren’t any rec leagues. So if they can get something to be consistent and structured … you can’t tell me we don’t have enough girls in the area to run a league.”
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