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Upward Basketball enters 4th year at FUMC

Sign-ups and evaluations for Upward Basketball are going on at Clanton First United Methodist Church tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Monday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Upward Basketball is an inclusive program open to all K-6 students regardless of skill level. The kindergarten league is coed, while the 1-6 grade levels pit boys against boys and girls against girls.

“One of the biggest points of the program is equal playing time,” program director Kandice Shrader said. “Every child gets an opportunity to start throughout the season, and the players are matched ability-wise. They will be playing against players of similar ability.”

During sign-ups, each child is evaluated for dribbling, shooting, quickness and other criteria. For this reason, they need to wear athletic shoes and clothes to the evaluation session.

Even though all the skills of basketball are incorporated, there is no scorekeeping in Upward Basketball. Shrader explains:

“We don’t keep score. It’s to focus on teamwork and character development more than winning.”

There is also a strong focus on scripture, as each practice incorporates a devotion. Participants also learn a weekly Bible verse. During halftime of each game, a church member shares a testimony with those in attendance.

About 195 students signed up last year, and the church hopes to exceed that number this year.

“Upward Basketball is a great, safe activity for children,” Shrader said. “It helps them grow in Christ and build character.”

Early registration is $50 per child. After Nov. 30, the cost is $60. Basketball shorts are optional at a cost of $15.

Evaluations are mandatory and will be held in the church gym on the aforementioned dates. Practices begin the week of Monday, Dec. 8, and the first game is Saturday, Jan. 10. The season will culminate with an awards celebration Saturday, Feb. 28.

For more information, call 755-0490 or 217-0024.