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Improvements sought in parish basketball program

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 19, 1998

LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council and administrationrecently took steps to keep the parish Biddy Basketball program alive. Nowparish officials and volunteers working with the program are looking to the local community to help out with the 1998-99 season.

The council recently approved transferring $50,000 from economic development to the general fund to help pay off debts incurred by the recreation department, predicated that the administration made sure that the Biddy Basketball program was continued. Of the $50,000, $10,000 wasput aside for Biddy Basketball.

A special Presidential Ad Hoc Committee, formed by Parish President Arnold Labat in cooperation with the council, has been formed. Members ofthe committee are Keith Gillies, Richard Green, Harold Keller, Timmy Byrd, Danny Rome, Lionel Washington, Ronnie Smith and Kevin Branch.

Green, who had served as commissioner of the parish Biddy Basketball league last year, has agreed to serve as commissioner again.

The committee was formed to advise Labat on ways to save recreational basketball and ideas to modify the program to increase participation and insure fairness.

The committee has recommended that the parish be divided into three geographical districts – LaPlace, West St. John and Reserve-Garyville. Aparish-wide registration program over two weekends will be implemented in each district. Children will associate with and practice with a team intheir district of residence. Games will be played in all districts.Registration will be held in the coming weeks.

The committee also recommended that club teams will be eliminated and that registration be done on an individual basis. Players will be assignedto teams, by district or residence, by the committee which will decide the number of teams and players on each team.

The committee has put safeguards on the formation of teams to increase the opportunity for parity in each league. The committee also implementedrules to limit the number of blowouts in the program. The committee willalso select the 1999 All-Star teams in each group to represent the parish in national Biddy competition.

The program will have boys and girls leagues. Age groups will be 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 for boys and 9-10 and 11-12 for girls. Gillies said thatorganizers hope to get started in early November. The age cutoff for eachage group is the players’ age as of September 1. For example, if a playerturns 13 in September, he or she can still play for a 12-and-under team.

Gillies said he has met with Labat and that the administration is behind the program. He has also spoken with Judge Madeline Jasmine and that shehas offered to do anything to help.

“It is a coming together of all different groups of people,” Gillies said.

“Everybody wants this to work. Every-body wants to have BiddyBasketball.”Duffy said problems in the past have been organization and scheduling.

There were times, he said, that a team would go the gym for a game at 11:30 a.m. and find out it was for 2:30 p.m. Duffy said that scheduling isone thing that the organizers will focus on and have games run on time.

The committee has emphasized that it will make every effort to start games on time. There will be a 15-minute grace period for the first gameof a session. Thereafter, if a coach or team is late, the team will forfeitthe game.

Officials are expected to start all games on time, call each game fairly and maintain order. All participants are expected to act in a sportsmanlikemanner. Players ejected from a game will be suspended from their nextgame. Players will be expelled from the league if they are ejected from asecond game. Anyone involved in fighting will be immediately expelledfrom the league. Any coach ejected from two games will also be expelledfrom the program.

Duffy said he hopes this will be a positive season and that the parish can continue with a recreation program in the future.

“We hope this will be our best season so far,” Duffy said.

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