New partnership revives Winters youth basketball

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Winters City Councilmember unanimously approved entering into a partnership to provide a youth basketball league at the Nov. 15 City Council meeting,

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa presented a recommendation to enter into a contract recreation model in partnership with the National Academy of Athletics in order to organize a new youth basketball league in the city.

For a number of years, the city organized a youth basketball league in Winters before having to shut it down by the pandemic. The original volunteer who organized the league is no longer available, and City staff wasn’t able to organize it itself. But this new measure would enter the City of Winters into a contract with the National Academy of Athletics (NAA) to reform another league for children in Winters from kindergarten through fifth grade under the NAA’s supervision.

Though the city has not previously worked with the National Academy of Athletics specifically, Trepa noted existing City programs like swim lessons and the swim team are organized by nonprofit swim club Solano DART along a revenue sharing model similar to how the new basketball league would be organized.

The revenue sharing model, Trepa explained, “means that they offer turnkey services to coordinate the basketball league,” in exchange for a 90 percent profit split of participation costs, meaning, “there’s no effort on the part of (city) staff other than to reserve school facilities, and (NAA) take care of everything else.”

Trepa expounded on the revenue split, saying that though other cities use revenue splits like 60–40 or 70–30, those types of splits mean, “the costs are higher, and in order to maintain as low a cost as possible for registration,” she recommends the 90–10 split.

The league would host games on Saturday afternoons over a seven-week season. Registration costs will be $105 for kindergarten through first grade, and $145 for second through fifth grades. The vendor would take care of most of the game’s logistics like referees, with the NAA only requesting parent volunteers for assisting with scoreboards and other playtime duties.

The NAA also offers a scholarship program, funded by Every Kids Sports, to cover registration costs for qualifying families, with Trepa saying families enrolled in “Medicaid, SNAP and WIC, with appropriate documentation, would be able to register for free.” Trepa also noted that the city is in discussions with NAA for allowing families enrolled in free or reduced lunch to receive some aid in payments as well.

Ben Freeland, a representative from the NAA, spoke before the council to clarify questions from councilmembers. Freeland explained that “our whole goal is to make it affordable for the communities that we’re serving, and also provide something in the community for the community members so they don’t have to travel elsewhere.”

“We bring a sense of consistency,” Freeland continued saying the whole goal is to create a development league where athletes learn the basic rules and fundamental skills of the game. “But one thing we’ve found (is) we believe in the fair play — everyone’s participating, everyone will get playing time,” Freeland said.

Freeland noted that a key difference between the past league is that instead of weekly practices, the practices are a part of back-to-back 90-minute sessions along with the games, meaning each age bracket gets 40 minutes of practices and 50 minutes of play.

Councilmembers expressed their enthusiastic support for the measure. Mayor Wade Cowan noted his experience attending the previous basketball league’s games and their popularity at the time. 

Mayor Pro Tempore Bill Biasi also voiced his support, saying that “since we have limited staff, we don’t have the capacity to put one of these leagues on. I think this is a good way to approach it.”

Registration details
Registration for the developmental leagues is officially open for the season that is scheduled to run from Jan. 21 through March 4. Families can register online at https://tinyurl.com/2bxuym8v. A search by zipcode “95694” will bring up the Winters Developmental League options.

Programs are broken down into developmental leagues for kindergarten and first grade (all genders). The developmental leagues for second and third grade and for fourth and fifth grade are divided into girls’ and boys’ teams.

Information about how to apply for financial support and league details is included on each league’s registration page.

The league currently needs three to four volunteers each week for each time slot. Volunteer needs include two referees and two scorekeepers. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up at https://tinyurl.com/2p8s628c.

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