A new generation, a new set of problems
September 30, 2000 -- Foothill Leader
A new generation, a new set of problems
By Anita Susan Brenner
Groucho Marx once said, "politics is the art of looking for trouble,
finding it, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."
Can you spell "sports fields?"
Politics aside, the family-friendly solution to the sports-field
shortage is the Liberty Project. This long-term solution to the ball
field problem would extend Memorial Park, built on on cut and cover over
the Foothill (210) Freeway, down to Gould Avenue.
Other groups have discovered short-term solutions. Welcome to National
Junior Basketball, the hoopster's equivalent to AYSO.
Many La Canadans go from sport to sport. In the fall, there's AYSO
soccer, Gladiator football and Gladiator cheerleading. In the spring,
there's the La Canada Junior Baseball/Softball Assn. In the winter,
there's a gap.
There's a highly competitive winter program called Spartan Basketball,
designed for kids 8 to 13. There are tryouts. There are cuts. Only the
top players make the team.
There's also Y Winners, a smaller, less-competitive program.
What La Canada needs, according to the hoopsters, is something like
AYSO soccer, with fancy uniforms, volunteer coaches and no cuts. The
motto of AYSO is "everybody plays." That's the kind of basketball program
elementary school kids need.
Currently, local basketball programs do not offer open teams in a
That's why a group of local parents have decided to organize a new
program -- a La Canada chapter of a national program called National
Junior Basketball or NJB.
"We are a group of parents in the community that is responding to a
perceived need in the La Canada Community to have a competitive
basketball league designed for all children who want to play and where
there are 'no cuts.' That's what the Web site says at
Starting a program is no easy task. The hoopsters needed help with the
infrastructure. So they turned to the granddaddy of La Canada youth
programs -- the Roger Barkley Community Center, formerly known as the La
Canada Youth House.
Also known as the home of Gregory Chicken.
And Gregory Peck.
The staff at the Roger Barkley Community Center was receptive.
Starting Oct. 9, you can go to the Barkley Center at 4469 Chevy Chase
Drive to register your third- through eighth-grade sons and daughters in
La Canada's new NJB program. You can call the center at (790-4353).
The charge is $150 for a 15-week program. Practices will be on
Saturdays. Games will be on Sundays. Your kids will be issued uniforms
and t-shirts. And you can sign up to be a referee!
Local parent and NJB organizer Kathy Kumagai said establishment of an
NJB chapter is a positive step in bringing competitive community-based
basketball back to La Canada. "We are really happy to have the
cooperation and assistance of the Roger Barkley Community Center in this
Community center athletic director Dana Spautz is committed to the new
program. She presently administers the community center's adult
basketball program. She is familiar with local sports facilities.
Dana Spautz loves basketball.
Spautz didn't try to build a basketball court under the Edison
She didn't ask to take over Rockridge Terrace.
Or Cherry Canyon.
Or the school district offices.
Instead, Spautz lined up rental time at two local facilities. One is
in La Canada -- the Foothill Intermediate School. The other is off the
Glendale (2) Freeway at Ribet Academy in Los Angeles.
I asked Spautz if Ribet Academy was too far. I knew that La Canadans
will drive miles to the nearest Costco or Saks. Would they feel that
Ribet is too far away?
"It's not too far," Spautz said. 'It's only eight miles away ...
There's good parking. It's a brand-new facility. It's enclosed. It's
When practice starts on Nov. 11, FIS and Ribet will echo with the
happy noise of the little-bitty hoopsters. The games will start on Dec. 3
and continue until Feb. 18, with an optional post-season tournament on
Spautz plans for the program to break even, with administrative help
from the community center. No one's out to make a profit. As in AYSO,
parents serve as coaches and referees. They hope to have a few hundred
kids. And the NJB will train the parents who graciously volunteer to
Instead of taking the long view, the City Council majority has
selected the wrong remedies. Spend more money. Buy more land. Under the
power lines. By the freeway onramp. Plan fields for residential
neighborhoods. Tell the neighbors later.
Hey! I know! Maybe we could rent fields in Glendale for the short term
while we pursue the Liberty Project for the long term.
Even Groucho would be happy.
copyright September 26, 2000 Anita Susan Brenner