The fall season for the LoCo Girls Basketball League is starting on September 11. Open to girls in third, fourth and fifth grades, the nonprofit basketball league wants to teach young women the fundamentals of basketball in a positive and empowering environment.
“The core idea behind the league is that it’s by girls, for girls,” said League Director Chris Copeland. “For me it's about moms and girls playing basketball together and we’re just giving them the tools.”
Copeland coached elementary sports for years, including soccer and coed basketball, and found a lack of opportunities for young women to engage in league sports in Longmont. The idea for LoCo Girls Basketball formed between Copeland and other parents during the winter 2020 basketball season, but the pandemic put everything on hold. Plans for fall of 2020 got shelved for another nine months, but now they are ready to go.
Both of Cally Chenault’s daughters, one in third grade and the other in fourth, played sports coached by Copeland. When the league was getting off the ground, Chenault said both the girls were excited to join up. Chenault felt there weren’t many opportunities for girl-specific sports for elementary school.
“It’s really nice to have a league that’s specifically tuned towards girls and giving them opportunities to play and learn skills,” Chenault said.
So far the girls have been practicing before the season begins in earnest. Copeland and the coaches want to be sure the students have confidence in their skills on the court. The league is open to all skill and experience levels, Copeland said, and practices are as much about collaboration and teamwork as fundamentals.
Many of the girls enrolled in the league are from Longmont’s Central Elementary, where Copeland’s own daughter attends, but enrollment is open to any girls in the age range from the area. Students from Mead, Niwot and Boulder, as well as other areas of Longmont, have already enrolled in the fall season.
“I’m really grateful to Chris for putting this in action,” Chenault said. “He took a spur of the moment conversation and turned it into this whole league.”
For Copeland, one of the most important parts of the league was the opportunity to empower women in athletics. The staff and volunteer coaches for the league are all women, and Copeland is the only male staff member. Copeland has even created a guest coaching program only open to the student’s mothers, to help with practice and learn the game along with the girls.
Copeland hopes the league grows to the point that he can hire all the staff he needs and focus on the bigger picture for the organization.
Copeland plans on running the league in every season. Registration for the winter season will open September 1 and close December 31, with the season itself starting January 11. Dates for the spring season haven’t been set at this time, though Copeland is aiming for an April start. During the summer, the league will run basketball camps and skills clinics that will prepare the girls for the upcoming seasons.
COVID safety is at the forefront for the league, and girls practice and play while wearing masks. Keeping the girls healthy and making sure the opportunities for the league to continue was a priority, according to Copeland.
Practices happen at Lifebridge Church and the St. Vrain Memorial Building, and the Saturday afternoon games take place at the Longmont Recreation Center.