Church basketball league fosters competitive spirit, recreational participation

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 12:11 AM

The Seymour First Baptist Church is currently in the middle of its MVP Basketball season, which is part of its MVP recreation ministry program that also includes soccer and cheerleading.

"We do MVP because we're able to adapt our recreation ministry to our church ministry and emphasize it,"said Ken Lovelace, minister of recreation and children for Seymour First Baptist. "As a part of it, we took MVP and said Jesus is the most valuable player in our ministry, and to Jesus every child is the MVP."

The program is now in its 11th year, with basketball and cheerleading in the winter and soccer in the spring and fall.

"We've done football and baseball in the past, but we really just settled into what we feel like we get the most success with our community, which is basketball, soccer and cheerleading," Lovelace said.

Approximately 300 children from the community make up the 35 basketball teams that play from January-March.

Children from pre-K through eighth grade are allowed to participate, and they are placed into divisions based on grade.

"Our goal through MVP is that every child participating can have some success in sports," Lovelace said. "We want to build a base for recreational sports because it's just a good, all-around part of life."

Lovelace said all the children play an equal amount of time, but they don't deny the competitive spirit.

"We want that competitive spirit because that is such a major part of sports. If we took that out we would do the kids an injustice," Lovelace said. "We keep score because they do that in life. Parents are doing it in the bleachers so we may as well keep score so there's not all these tallies going on. And in life, not everybody wins, but hopefully not everybody loses. So it's just that life lesson through the process."

There are no division winners or end-of-season tournaments, however.

Lovelace said MVP has received a lot of positive feedback from the kids and their parents.

"With this being our 11th year and we never declined in numbers, then that's pretty good feedback," he said. "We continue to grow each year."

And of course, Lovelace said, they couldn't put on the tournament without volunteer support.

"For basketball and cheerleading, it takes 75 or more volunteers to make this happen every Saturday for games and throughout the week with practices," Lovelace said. "We're blessed to be able to offer this ministry to the community. We give thanks to the community for participating and for volunteering."

For questions or soccer registration information, e-mail Lovelace at ken55@bellsouth.net.

rhargett@themountainpress.com