Jamboree kicks off competitive basketball season

Photo credit: Jessica Banks

After abruptly ending with the start of the pandemic in winter 2020, competitive basketball returns to BYU-Idaho this semester. Six ten-person girls’ teams and 8 ten-person boys’ teams formed after finishing tryouts last week.

Thomas Barlow, a junior studying healthcare administration, is the women’s competitive basketball coordinator and one of the student leads for the league.

“We want it to be competitive, but at the same time, we want it to be respectful, and we want girls to care about each other,” Barlow said.

All BYU-I competitive sports give students who played sports in high school more of a competitive experience with post-high school sports. To give the league a competitive edge, they conduct tryouts for anyone interested in participating.

This semester they had 85 girls and 200 boys try out. After two days of tryouts, they had a draft. The coaches came together and picked the players they wanted on their teams.

The regular season will take place from next week until March, followed by playoffs and a championship at the end of March.

All 14 teams gathered for the jamboree kickoff event Friday night to play all other teams in their respective leagues.

“A lot of these girls have played each other before,” Barlow said. “But tonight, it’s just … the night to see how the teams are stacked, start planning how they’re going to take on each team and strategize that. So, it’s exciting. Everyone’s going to get to see each other tonight and see how they play together.”

During the jamboree, each team played all of the other teams in quick, 7-minute games. Since the draft took place just the day before, this really was the first time many of these players played together.

Rockele Bates, a senior studying exercise physiology, is playing in the girls’ competitive league. She played in winter 2020 before COVID-19 shut down competitive sports.

Bates said she was excited to play, even with the restrictions COVID-19 requires. All of the players, coaches and refs have to wear masks during the games.

“Usually if I have a cold, I’ll just come play ball because ball is life, but now I feel like we got to be a little more cautious and be safe,” Bates said.

Bates played basketball in high school, so playing competitively rather than just playing intramural sports gives her the opportunity to play her hardest.

“My favorite part is probably just getting to play basketball competitively with girls that have been playing for a long time so that I can play at the best level that I possibly can,” Bates said. “It pushes me to play better because I’m playing people that are as good or better than me.”

During the break, Bates and many other competitive players joined intramural teams to have the opportunity to still play basketball. For some students, they are coming to BYU-I just in time for the competitive sports to begin again.

Tyson Harvey, a freshman studying psychology, is in his first semester at BYU-I. He played basketball in high school and saw flyers around campus for the competitive league.

“Well, I just love playing basketball, and I know there’s some good competition here, so I decided to test myself,” Harvey said.

Harvey thought competitive basketball would be a good way to have fun and meet people.

Every Friday and Saturday in the BYU-Idaho Center, students can watch their friends play competitive basketball. The league will last the duration of the semester and is a great opportunity to make watching live sports part of their BYU-I experience.