Game Time League starts with Sunday's tryouts


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The Field House gym quickly warmed up as 22 women ran the court, getting ready to show their skills to a group of watchful coaches. They were anticipating the Game Time League draft three days away.

The tryouts, held on Sunday night, highlighted players who do not play for the Hawkeyes. Because many athletes hail from smaller schools, such as Upper Iowa and Kirkwood and even high schools, the coaches have not seen the majority of the athletes play. Holding tryouts before the official draft is necessary for the coaches to fill their rosters for the competitive league.

Ever year, players return to the league for a place to play during the summer. The age gap can be severe. Some are freshmen in high school, and others are seniors in college.

"I want to play at Iowa someday," said City High sophomore Hazel Crew said. "I am nervous about playing against girls who are so much bigger than me. I'm so young, but I really wanted to do it for the experience."

Northern Iowa players, who usually play in the league, have decided against participating this year. The NCAA passed a new rule allowing the Panthers to hold up to four organized practices a week. Northern Iowa coaches worried that the extra time commitment, paired with the travel time between Iowa City and Cedar Falls, might over-commit the hoopsters.

Because of the loss of numbers, the entire league is affected. There will only be four teams instead of the usual six this season.

"Its kind of a shame that UNI isn't in it this year," Kirkwood sophomore Tara Grey said. "It not only decreases their ability to get better, but the more people you have out here, the more people who can improve their game and improve the quality of girl players in Iowa."

Female basketball players have come from all over to play in this league, and most are concerned with their individual development as athletes.

The league's reputation has spread fast.

Alex Sexon from Missouri Western State University and Olivia Meier from Upper Iowa, who have known each other since they were 4, decided to join the league this summer for the first time.

"A lot of girls from our club team talked about how much they liked Game Time," Sexon said. "I figured it would be a good activity to keep in shape."

Game Time presents a perfect opportunity for the female hoopsters to practice certain parts of their game in a competitive environment. Meier said the game setting helps her focus on certain skills for her college career.

"It's the perfect place to work on what you need to work on," she said. "I need to drive and finish stronger. You can't really work on that by yourself. You can drive as hard as you want, but you really need a game-like setting."

Game Time players on each team have often never met before, but this individualized journey blended into a team environment presents the perfect balance between work a fun.

"It's fun. In college, high school, or whatever level you're at, there's a lot of pressure to win," Grey said. "And, of course, you're doing your best and having fun, but here, it's about having fun and developing the little things you need to develop and going from there."

There are years of difference among most of these players — such as Grey, who is just starting her basketball journey, and Coe College junior Mackenzie Reed. But the players say that one of the best things about the league are the relationships they make with the others.

"It's funny, because you'll play a team during the season, and you'll realize you're playing the girl who was on your team during Game Time," Reed said.

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