In lieu of this year's city youth basketball league, the Unalaska Department of Parks, Culture, and Recreation will be holding a season-long skills competition in order to observe COVID-19 social distancing mandates.
Because of the close-contact nature of basketball, PCR Sports and Recreation Coordinator Chris DiGiro said there will be no games this season. But he said he still wants to ensure that kids in the community don't lose an entire year of practice and will still have a chance to improve their fundamentals.
"This program is basically oriented on trying to develop individual skills, and being able to put together what's learned in a stressful environment, [from] going up against a clock through an obstacle-type course, to [testing] different skills like dribbling, shooting, rebounding, and speed," said DiGiro.
Over the course of the season, which begins Oct. 17 and will run through Nov. 21, players will have the opportunity to practice during the week and then compete on Saturdays during the skills competition, where they can earn points for their team. According to DiGiro, the kindergarten through first grade players will not compete and only attend practices.
The competition will look drastically different than basketball games and practices have in years past. Teams will be separated into pods so that they will not be intermingling with all of the other teams; team scores will be displayed on a leaderboard in the Community Center lobby; and as of now, DiGiro said, spectators will not be allowed to attend practices, but he and his team are brainstorming ways to safely allow people to watch the competitions.
"We're working on trying to find some sort of way to allow people in to check out what we do on Saturdays—whether it's virtual or whether it's still limited capacity—where we do some sort of sign up or something like that," explained DiGiro.
DiGiro said with the registration deadline for participants approaching and the coach's meeting just about a week away, he is making a final push to get volunteer coaches to sign up. He said he's aiming at getting at least ten more coaches.
"You don't have to be an expert in coaching," said DiGiro. "All you need is two hours a week. I'm always here to help. I think the coaches that have been through the leagues with me will tell anybody who's thinking about it, that it's pretty easy. I try to make it as simple as possible for anyone who's new and wants to try it out."
The deadline for players to register in the city's youth basketball skills competition is Oct. 8 by the end of the day. For more information regarding registration or volunteer opportunities call 581-1297, or visit the PCR's Facebook page.