Lovell rec basketball league in full swing

Erin Mullins

Lovell Recreation men’s and women’s rec basketball is in full swing in Lovell this February, with the season running through the end of March.
On the men’s side, there is not a weekly practice but instead a game once a week during the season on Tuesdays. There are no organized practices outside of the games, said Kade Baxendale, coordinator for the men’s rec basketball teams.
On the women’s side it is the same but on Thursday nights, with players scrimmaging once a week in either five on five or three on three play, depending on the turn out for the night, said Gretchen Walker, coordinator for the women’s rec basketball teams. Anyone who wants to play is welcome, Walker said.
Players young and old of all abilities are welcome, she said.
“The play is definitely for fun, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t get competitive. We get a lot of athletes that played in high school or college, and so that natural competitiveness just comes out and everyone wants to win. At the end of the night, it’s smiles and high five,  though,” Walker said. “We love when there is a college holiday or spring break when the college kids come back, because they always up the speed of play.”
The men’s season ends with a tournament, with the champion decided by a double-elimination bracket, Baxendale said.
There are six teams with seven to 10 people on each team, which is comparable to the typical turnout the past few years, Baxendale said, and everybody seems to enjoy turning out for the game.
There used to be only four teams who participated, he said, but the rec league has grown to six teams. He said that half of the six teams stand out as competitive and are evenly matched when it comes to tournament season.
For the women, Walker said the turnout is different every week, and there is not a tournament season. Women start playing at 8 p.m. and sometimes stay until 10 or later, coming or going as they can.
The group is friendly and supportive of moms she said, with players turning out when pregnant or when they have a baby. The practices are in the evenings so that moms with young kids can come play after they put their children to bed, she said.
Walker encourages all moms, middle-schoolers and everything in between to turn out for the rec league.
With a culminating tournament season, the men’s competition is more formally organized than the women’s, but Baxendale said the tournament will be in good spirits.
“We’re there to have fun, too. It’s a rec league and everything, but we’re also competitive,” he said. “But I think it’ll be good.”
Men join the rec league because they enjoy basketball, want exercise and need to get out and engage in a fun activity, Baxendale said.
Outside of basketball, Baxendale said he is busy working, and it is good to have an outlet. He has been playing basketball since 8 years old and has continued to play his whole life. While some families attend rec games, it is more of an activity for the guys to get out, he said.
Baxendale doesn’t have a favorite memory of his time in rec basketball, but he always enjoys playing with the other guys on the team and joking around.
Meanwhile, Walker’s first official basketball team was in fifth grade. She continued to play throughout high school and was recruited from Shelley, Idaho, to Northwest College in Powell to play basketball. Since college, she has continued to play basketball competitively until moving to Lovell and joining the rec league.
As coordinator, Baxendale is responsible for organizing the teams, designing the schedule and opening the gym. Before she took up the role a few years back, Walker said Tashie Lundberg coordinated the teams for around 15 years.
Upon moving to Lovell, Walker’s first friend was Mindy Mickelson, who invited her to turn out for the rec league, picking her up every week for the game.
“I don’t know if I would have been confident enough to come on my own, so I’ve always appreciated her friendship. She still comes to play when she can,” Walker said.