OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - There's a new basketball league in Ocean Springs that's meant to get kids active and help them foster a love for the game. The Ocean Springs High School girls basketball team started the league in hopes those same kids will want to play the sport as upper classmen.
LaShonda Smith has been the Lady Greyhounds' head basketball coach for the past three years now. Smith said she notices every year the prospects at tryouts are few and far between for girls basketball.
"We only had six girls show up for 9th grade tryouts coming over from the middle school, and the issue is it's very difficult to try to build a program and get it in the right direction when you have a lack of participation," said Smith.
In an effort to spark more interest in the sport, Smith teamed up with parents and players to put together a fall basketball league and two free basketball clinics.
"We want to catch them as early as possible, because we aren't really sure why there's such a lack of participation. They might be playing other sports. Volleyball and soccer are also very popular in the area. The idea is to try to catch them early and try to keep them interested throughout the year," said Smith.
"Basketball is a sport that leads to other sports. Once you play basketball, it's like playing soccer. You can play lacrosse. You can play volleyball. Basketball encompasses just about every sport," said booster club president Gaynell Chrissis.
Smith said she'll oversee her players, who will be the ones heading up the clinics and coaching the league.
"It develops good social skills. These are your sisters. You play with them every day. They are your best friends. It's just good socially to get them out there, and it's just a fun game," said senior Dougless St. Amant.
The clinics and fall basketball league are open to boys and girls in grades three through six. For more information, call 228-875-0333.