PHOTOS: Dribbling into 2021

After spending much of 2020 wondering when youth sports would be able to return, Russellville Parks and Recreation is reporting record numbers in basketball interest.

Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Flanagan said 43 more players signed up for basketball this year than this past year, for a total of 17 teams of various ages.

“These kids have been stuck inside for a while, so I think they are all just excited to get out and be able to play,” said Flanagan.

In addition to beginning the recreational season, Parks and Recreation hosted a basketball camp Monday for athletes to learn from Russellville native professional basketball player Siran Winston.

The camp brought in 14 athletes from third grade through sixth grade to learn drills and work on their basketball fundamentals before the season begins.

Flanagan said participating in a camp is especially beneficial to players to develop fundamentals they might not hone in traditional practices.

“A lot of times the player will get older and have developed these bad habits,” Flanagan said. “That isn’t a coach’s fault; most coaches just aren’t able to go to each player individually to work to correct things. With a camp, you can really focus on that stuff.”

Players were divided into age groups and skill levels, and Winston provided instruction on skills like passing and shooting.

“It is always great for the kids to have a chance to learn from someone like him,” Flanagan said. “He is someone they can look up to, and maybe one of these kids will decide they want to be like him.”