by James Poulakidas
There is no hotter spot in Woburn on Thursday nights than the John F. Kennedy Middle School’s basketball court. Every week the boys of Woburn’s recreational basketball league lace up their sneakers and play some hoops. Fans from all over flood into the gym to see the valiant efforts of the six colorful teams vie for the right to call themselves champions.
Recreational basketball, also known as rec bball for short, has been a cornerstone in the lives of Woburn high school students for years. The league is pretty simple. Six teams make up the structure of the league. Each team is represented by a color; the colors include red, light blue, gray, pink, black, and orange. Anyone who wishes to play can do so by signing up with Woburn’s Recreational Department.
From there, high school seniors are given the opportunity to attain captainship of a team. The privileges of being a captain are choosing their team’s color, drafting the players for their team, and handling any coaching or management affairs that arise throughout the season. Not to mention captainship is a great way to grab the attention of the ladies.
After the teams are picked, the real fun starts. Every team is given an 8 game schedule over the course of 10 hard fought weeks with two bye weeks. Two games are played every week. Play is under the supervision of referees who do their best to make the right calls, but still often find themselves in an altercation with a distraught player time and time again. Due to the fact that there are only six teams, everyone gets a chance to make a run in the playoffs.
However, the team with the best record gets a bye week, automatically putting themselves into the second round of the playoffs and one step closer to the title. As for the two worst teams, they don’t have it so easy. They must play an extra game to keep going, like a wild card game. Although the NBA may be more successful than Woburn’s rec basketball league; it is still just as (if not more exciting) than the NBA. Rec basketball fanatic senior David Pratt agrees.
“Rec basketball makes my Thursdays a lot more exciting. It’s not every day that you get to see such intense competition like you do on that court every Thursday.” said Pratt.
Though every team in the league has seen its ups and downs, the red squad hasn’t had a down yet. They are rec basketball’s undefeated team and they find themselves on the top of the standings in first place. They are led by captains Mike Walsh and Kyle Sullivan. They attribute their success to a great draft, where they chose Phil Gillette with the first overall pick in the draft. Senior Mike Walsh is enjoying life on top.
“You know it’s really great to see a bunch of guys come together as one and really dominate a league like red squad has done all year. We’re undefeated and that’s just the beginning. I’m looking forward to a championship,” said Walsh.
Orange team captains Mike Ryan and Mark McGuire saw a lot of promise in the squad they drafted; they weren’t wrong. Ryan and McGuire have led their team to a great start. They have been one of the top teams throughout the season. They are highlighted by the sweet shooting style of Anthony Ngyuen and they are a sure to be a force in the playoffs.
The gray team is the only team in the league without a senior, but that isn’t hurting them. They feature the likes of Adam Gately, Nick Thomas, Zach Tanner, and their secret weapon: Abass Hagi. His three-point shooting has been terrific and always keeps them in the ballgame.
They say real men wear pink and pink team captain Dan Rae strongly agrees. Rae leads his squad on the court week in and week out sporting hot pink jerseys, sneakers, and socks. They play extreme defense with senior Nick Dalton, no point is easily earned. In addition to a great defense, senior Joe Lavallee has been one of the best scorers in the league every week. They are definitely a fun team to watch.
Senior Tyler Suitter is the captain of the black team. They go hard for the whole 48 minutes, and they are sure to give you trouble, especially in the paint. Big man junior Miguel Quiles has been dominating rec all season. He has been playing superb offense and bringing it on defense. Though their record may not show it, they are not a team you want to see in the playoffs.
Nobody wants to be in last place. Unfortunately for light blue, they are sitting in the basement of rec basketball. Light blue runs off the unique playing styles of their captains James Poulakidas and Ryan Glavin, who seem to be shaking things up every game. Even though they have tried just about everything, nothing seems to be working and they have yet to win a game.
However, juniors Zack Taylor, Dave Soares, Brad Mccallister, and Chris Schicilone have stepped up their game and subsequently light blue is starting to show signs of improvement. Still, they are winless, and most likely will remain winless. Senior captain Ryan Glavin doesn’t let the unsuccessful season stop him from having fun.
“You have to love the competition. We are so competitive and it makes for a fun league. I also love playing with and against my best friends.” said Glavin.
Though rec basketball may sound like just another recreational sport or a platform where not-so- great athletes can satisfy their hunger for competition; it has a lot more to it. Every week is a fight to the finish. The intensity, the tenacity, and camaraderie overflow the gym as each team leaves it all on the court. Once you walk into that gym, you will be a witness of some great basketball. You will witness 10 guys coming together with one common goal: success.