PV youth program | TheUnion.com

PV youth program

If you attended a Pleasant Valley eighth-grade basketball game this past season, you might have looked to the bench in shock and stopped to rub your eyes. Yes, there were indeed 28 boys suited up to play and counted as members of the team.

Isn’t that too many kids? Wouldn’t it be hard to handle that many players? Playing time must be tough to dole out, right?

The answer to those questions are all yes, but the real question to ask is why coach Jeff Miller and the Pleasant Valley basketball program believe in keeping that many players.

The answer is simple really.

At Pleasant Valley, basketball is not just a sport or an activity for the students, it’s a way to make the students part of a team, to help them form a relationship with teachers outside the classroom and to enjoy one another’s company – while getting a little hoop fun in at the same time.

“Basketball is part of the culture here,” Miller explains. “It’s not just about the games or the scoreboard. Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything you count should be counted.”

Basketball at Pleasant Valley is not about the scores or the honors – it’s about the experience. Not just any experience either, one the kids can remember for the rest of their lives even if they never make a varsity basketball team in future. Not one student will remember who earned an individual honor, mainly because those aren’t awarded, but almost every player will surely remember going to Miller’s house after the Nevada County Junior High basketball tournament and celebrating a fun season.

While having 28 kids on the team this year was a struggle at times – namely dividing up 140 minutes a game between 28 players – Miller didn’t see any better solution.

If he could get 28 uniforms, which he did, then why deny the kids a chance to be part of something special?

In addition to the 28 players on the team, numerous other students, boys and girls, helped to manage the team by keeping track of equipment, operating the scoreboard or taking down game stats. Even students who had no official job were always welcome to come to the games, home or away – they just had to let someone on the coaching staff know and a ride was could be arranged.

“It’s important to have a relationship outside of the class with the kids,” said Miller who had coached the boys and girls basketball teams at Pleasant Valley for 23 years. “If you do, they will want to do work for you inside the classroom as well…It’s also a way to get kids to bond and enjoy being part of a group.”

Within the next two years Miller will retire from teaching and coaching, but even as he leaves the message he wants people to hear is that it’s not about him, but rather about a program. A program dedicated to making each season rewarding for every player – even if the size of the team resembles a football team instead of a basketball team.

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