The Episcopal School in North Philadelphia

ABC_2255-webIn their second season, St. James Huskies basketball continues to evolve into a solid team.

This 2014-2015 team is made up of nine players, including seven from 8th grade, one from 7th grade, and one from 6th grade. One of the most exciting new additions for the team has been the ability to enter a charter basketball league for middle schools in the area comprised of 10 teams including KIPP West, KIPP Pride, Wissahickon Charter, Discovery Charter, Alliance Charter, Independence Charter, Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter, West Oak Lane, and Belmont Charter.

While the league is all boys, they’ve respected St. James School’s unique co-ed makeup, and 8th grader Tyrena Husbands is currently the only girl playing in the league. Participation in this league has allowed students to compete with other student athletes their own age, giving them a positive experience with organized basketball.

The league started in mid-January and runs through the end of February, with the team normally playing two times a week and an opportunity for the team to enter the playoffs. Student athletes are also selected as representatives from each school to play in a season finale all-star game. Practices are held twice a week — 2:00-3:30 on Sundays and 6:15-7:30 on Tuesdays — at partner school William Penn Charter.

Student are held to high standards both academically and behaviorally at St. James School. In order to be eligible to play, student athletes cannot have any F’s or missing assignments by the time game day rolls around, and they attend weekly study halls on Tuesday evenings after school from 5:15-6:00pm, which allows them time to get homework done, catch up on missing work, or get tutoring help in a subject area in which they currently struggle.

For many players, this is their first opportunity to play organized basketball. The team has overcome obstacles from ineligibility and sickness to forming a bond as a team and knowing how to play hard until the very end of the game, no matter what the scoreboard says. A recent highlight was when 6th grader John Macon — one of the youngest players in the league — scored his first basket in the team’s game against Alliance Charter. The team worked together to score a season high 23 points in one game.

The team continues to improve every time they step onto the court, and continue to create lasting memories that will become part of their legacy as St. James Huskies basketball players.