LYNN — For more than two decades the Lynn Parks and Recreation Department has made a summer basketball league a staple in Lynn. This summer, with the help of English girls basketball coach Mackenzie Charles, summer hoops in Lynn is expanding.
“Lynn Parks and Rec has done a summer league for 25 years,” Charles said. “But this year is going to be the first time we get the girls playing in their own league. They have been playing co-ed for years now but we wanted to develop their own thing.”
This past winter Charles saw his English girls basketball team take a step in the right direction after qualifying for the Division 1 North state tournament. He’s glad to see the girls game continue to grow this summer.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the girls game in the whole city,” Charles said. “It’s something I’m really passionate about. I like to invest a lot of time in the kids in this city and the game of basketball. This is a good chance to show off a lot of talent the girls in this city have.”
The league will be split into two different divisions with games being played at the middle school and high school levels. Charles hopes that the league will help young athletes improve their craft during the offseason.
“It’s a good way for our players to get better too,” Charles said. “They’re going to have a real chance to improve playing two games a night. The city’s high school and middle school programs will only improve from this. Also, it’s a great way to keep the girls busy. This is all about giving the kids something to do in the summer and get better at the game.”
Along with expanding the league, hosting a girls league at Marian Gardens, where Charles grew up and learned to love basketball, adds another dimension to the experience.
“It’s really special to me because I grew up at Marian Gardens,” Charles said. “That’s where I learned to play ball. To be able to create this league and take a step to expand this to the girls game, it’s an opportunity I really cherish.
“It’s definitely a long time coming for the girls too,” Charles said. “They’ve been asking about it every year for a while. It’s great to finally get it together, especially trying to get the girls to play young. We want to grow the game of basketball.”
Putting it all together is a group effort and a top the list of names Charles thanks are Parks and Rec head Lisa Nerich and Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan (a former head girls basketball coach at English).
“None of this would be possible without Lisa Nerich and the Parks and Recreation’s support,” Charles said. “And Fred Hogan, no one can say they’ve done more for basketball in this city. He’s been coaching a long time and has been teaching the game to a lot of people. He does so much for the community and we all learned that from him. He set the example for all of us.”
Charles also gives thanks to several volunteer staff members including Cathrine Stinson and Cory Bingham and volunteer coaches Jeannette Anderson, Deondra Woumn, Chenysse Hill and Shardaye Berry-Rogers.
Registration for the free girls summer basketball league is Monday (4 p.m.) at Marian Gardens for players and anyone interested in volunteering as a coach. The goal is to create four middle school and high school teams with games being played after sign ups and next Monday and Thursday night at Marian Gardens.