An adult basketball league is just the beginning of Parks & Rec’s plans.
Plant City Parks & Recreaction has run adult basketball leagues in the past, utilizing the gyms at local middle schools to play in the absence of their own indoor facility, but it’s been over five years since the league has been active.
Last year rec supervisor Julie Garretson had the hope of relaunching the adult league as the Sadye Gibbs Martin Community center opened it’s doors, but the COVID-19 pandemic put those plans on hold. After the long wait, Plant City Parks & Rec kicked off their adult basketball league in September.
The league is composed of seven 10-person teams, with three games played each Wednesday throughout a seven-week regular season and a four-team playoff tournament the following week. An added point of emphasis for the department was making sure that the league was affordable, ensuring that everyone who strived to compete could participate, with the cost running at just $375 per team.
“I think that once the league happens and people hear about it, the price point is good and it’s organized and they come and they play, I think it will grow,” Garretson said.
Garretson added that they wanted to keep the league small to start, planning for six teams but ultimately starting the season with seven. This number not only limits the facility usage to one basketball court and three games each night, but also allows for the department to gauge interest and secure sufficient officials before expanding to eight or 10 teams playing on two separate courts simultaneously in the future.
For many, including former Strawberry Crest basketball player Preston Darkes, the league offers a return to competitive basketball in a more organized fashion than typical pickup games at local courts.
“It looks like it’s going to be a fun league,” Darkes said. “There’s a lot of competition out here so I think that it’s going to be a great experience for everybody… this is good, not only for a workout, but to get me back into playing organized ball.”
But the adult basketball league is just the beginning, according to Garretson. Plans are to have the league pick back up in the spring and summer as well, and with the new facility open and restrictions rolled back, Parks & Rec also hopes to potentially make adult pickle ball, softball, kickball and flag football leagues available as well.
“This is our inaugural season taking place in a basketball gym on city-owned property, running our own league, so we’re hoping that it can kind of move to other adult sports,” Garretson said. “Flag football, kickball, softball, maybe an adult pickle ball league, what have you… That’s kind of the goal. Hopefully this can be successful and those can piggyback off of it.”