The Red and White Basketball League is back after a one-year absence.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the league was canceled last summer for the first time in 31 years.
For many, this was a disappointment.
“We were at a loss when it was not able to be held last year,” said Victoria West basketball coach Pat Erskine. “This program gives the kids an opportunity to come together every summer, and it sucks that they missed out on that last year.”
Now, with the gyms restored and operational, coaches are hoping for a strong showing at the league this summer, and Erskine is excited for the league to be back up and running this year.
“We have been very encouraged by the response with people registering from both within Victoria and the surrounding communities,” Erskine said.
Victoria East golf coach and former Victoria High School basketball coach Mike Smith noticed a difference in the Victoria basketball teams last year and believes that the return of the Red and White League will help bring more success to the programs.
“I don’t think the Victoria teams were as good as they could have been last year,” Smith said. “Both East and West had struggles, and I think missing that season in the summer had a big effect on them.”
The program means a great deal to the kids who compete in it every summer as well.
According to Smith, it gives them something to do; keeps them out of trouble; helps instill a culture; and allows students time to play together, get experience and gain confidence.
Erskine also believes the program helps with these things.
“This league gives kids an opportunity to be around their community and friends while also competing,” Erskine said. “When you go out and watch these games, you can see how much better these kids get in just a month. It’s an opportunity for them to step out of their comfort zone as well, and that can really help someone grow as a player.”
The Red and White League is open to incoming sixth graders through age 22.
Games begin June 3 and will be played each Monday and Thursday, with the league continuing until July 2.
Erskine hopes the league can build on what Mike Smith started decades ago.
“It’s been a long time since Victoria basketball has been talked about as one of the town’s bigger sports,” Erskine said. “But Mike Smith did that and built a strong program when he was in charge. I just hope that we can continue that legacy he began and we can make basketball special in this town.”