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Women’s basketball continues in offseason

BY CONRAD SWANSON | JUNE 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Young women hustled up and down the court of the Field House on the evening of June 11 during tryouts for the Game Time League. The squeak of shoes and shouts from coaches, teammates, and parents echoed through the room.

Game Time has been around for 11 years, under the direction of Randy Larson. The season runs from mid-June to the end of July, and the games are played in the North Liberty Community Center.

Larson said he enjoys offering an opportunity for fun and friendly competition during the off-season, as well as providing an accurate representation of the college-basketball experience. The league simulates college play by using actual college referees and the same set of rules used in college basketball.

“They get to play with different people [and] have different coaches,” Larson said. “It’s more of a fun atmosphere.”

This league is a good help for women who want to keep a basketball mindset and a competitive edge, factors that drew Alissa Oney to try out on June 11. Oney, who has been playing basketball since second grade and will enroll at Maryville (St. Louis) in the fall, has traveled all over the country to play basketball. She said she believes playing in the Game Time League is imperative to her basketball routine.

“It helps me keep that competitive edge over the summer, keep working on my game, and stay in the flow of basketball,” she said.

Although Larson said the goal is to provide a college-basketball experience, players don’t have to be in college to play in the league. He has seen plenty of unknowns surprise the coaches, and he said the ability of underdogs and unknown players to come to the tryouts and make lasting impressions is one part of what makes the league an enjoyable experience.

“Sometimes, a 10th-grader will come in and just knock us off our feet,” he said.

Along with creating a well-rounded league with evenly matched teams, he said, he likes to provide a positive experience for basketball fans.

“[The tryouts] get it organized to where there’s good competition,” Larson said. “[The league then] gives a chance for the fans to come watch them play, because there’s no admission charge.”

While many of the tryouts are local women who play for either the University of Iowa or high schools in the area, some come out of their way to play in the league.

Sarah Waskow, a senior at Coe College, has played basketball since the third grade. She tried out for Larson last year and had such a positive experience that this year, she brought other friends from Coe to try out.

“I played last year, and it was a good experience,” she said. “It’s fun to play with different girls.”

Larson said he enjoys providing the women an opportunity to practice during the off-season with a healthy mix of different players and offering them a chance to keep doing what both they and the coaches love.

“The tryouts are always something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Larson said. “I don’t want people to feel like they need a big résumé. We don’t try to screen anybody — everyone is invited.”


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