“To our surprise, we got over 150 kids,” said Vergara, principal of Questa School and co-founder of Mountain House Basketball League, on Nov. 17, the opening day for the league.
The league has 14 teams in three divisions for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, and will play every weekend at the school until Feb. 9.
“A group of us are involved and invested in youth sports, so we have baseball, flag football, tackle football now,” Vergara said. “The only thing missing was basketball, so we decided to give it a shot.”
The first-year basketball league is only one sign of a growing youth sports movement in Mountain House.
Tackle football, flag football, Little League, cheer and soccer organizations are already active and established — and those helping organize the games say there’s room to grow.
Mo Kahoonei is the corporation chief for Mountain House Sports Inc., which put the Mountain House Hurricanes on the football field for the first time this year.
He said he was involved with the start of Mountain House Little League in 2008, and he sees introducing youth wrestling and volleyball as the next steps for his group.
The community also has Mountain House Flag Football Inc., including a 4-year-old youth league, a 2-year-old adult league and a new cheer program. Organization president and Mountain House Community Services District board member Andy Su said the group also started a golf club and tennis club two years ago, and more recently a volleyball club and cricket club.
Su said that flag football, which had 80 players in 2009, now has nearly 240, plus more than 50 cheerleaders.
He said it exemplifies the rapid growth of youth sports in the town of about 11,000 people.
“Relative to our population, the sports leagues have grown a lot bigger,” Su said. “People want quality leagues to play in, and we offer that.”
He added that the challenge is to keep leagues from outgrowing the ability of coaches and volunteers to manage them efficiently.
“We do have a cap, but I’ll do my best to offer it to as many kids as possible,” he said regarding the flag football league.
Counting Mountain House Little League and Mountain House Soccer Club, Su said, the young community has four youth sports groups, each one growing.
And each new league seems to be met with new interest. According to Mountain House Basketball League co-founder Reno Ursal, he receives interest in his competitive travel teams, the Mountain House Wolverines AAU club, even from players who aren’t ready for that level.
That, he said, was another motivation for the new instructional league.
“Now that we have something here, it gives another outlet for families whose kids want to play basketball, and to be taught basketball,” Ursal said.
Referee Michael McCoy said that teaching kids to play sports is at the heart of the effort.
He said the first rookie-level game, with the kindergarten and first-grade players, was an effort to keep the kids focused on learning how to dribble, pass and drive toward the correct end of the court.
“In two or three weeks from now, what you saw today will be a better product,” McCoy said. “You saw a lot of walking and a lot of traveling, them not understanding what they were supposed to do, but that will come in time.”
Jamar McMahan, whose sons Denel, 9, and Julian, 7, played Nov. 17, said he just wants them to learn the life lessons that team sports offer.
“Definitely at that age, they learn about teamwork,” McMahan said. “They learn about competition, the idea of competing and winning and losing, and that being a good sport is OK.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.