By Joe Salas
On November 9th, as stocks fell and economists around the world braced for an uncertain and stagnant future, a group of businesses had already committed to making sure one thing was certain: that a Greenwich Village institution would be able take the court this year—the basketball court.
The Greenwich House Girls Basketball League was formed in 1995, when a local parent, Harry Malakoff, couldn’t find a basketball league for his then 10-year-old daughter. In response, Malakoff, along with the Greenwich Village Youth Council, founded the Girls Basketball League. Today, Greenwich House runs this unique league, which combines volunteer coaching, mentorship opportunities, and strong community and parental support for girls 9 to 16 years old.
Thanks to support from local entrepreneurs, ranging from Compass Real Estate’s Debra Kameros to Beasty Feast and Dr. Shelley Kolton’s Downtown OB/GYN, as well as the support of Assembly Member Deborah Glick, the league is entering its 21st season stronger than ever. Over 60 girls partake in the weekly games from November through March.
Sponsor Debra Kameros has been supporting the League for many years, saying, “It gives me great joy. Leagues such as Greenwich House’s are wonderful places for children to learn about sports and teamwork, and are important for the parents too, both as part of the community and as part of the family experience.”
The League provides a refuge from the increasingly competitive world of youth sports. The non-competitive league emphasizes fun, teamwork, and a chance for everyone to play. Its goal is to allow girls to have fun while building self-esteem, to learn how to win and lose gracefully, to work well with others, and to develop the discipline to faithfully attend practices as well as games.
Commissioner Hannah Boykoff described the League as a place where “every girl is an important part of the team no matter what skill level. We not only teach the fundamentals of the sport but foster team camaraderie and skills that last a life time.”
The games also provide a refuge for friends and neighbors overwhelmed in a digital age with a 24-hour news cycle. As one parent who wished to remain anonymous at the risk of embarrassing her teenage player said, “It’s an hour, two if you stay for both games, where you’re not distracted by soundbites and statistics. It’s not about winning. It’s about bonding with our daughter and getting to know our neighbors.”
In fact, watching a game can sometimes feel like a family reunion. Bleachers are filled with a mix of players, friends, and families. Familiar greetings bounce from aisle to aisle while encouraging cheers radiate—their intended recipients the players, regardless of team—a welcome relief by many operating in an increasingly polarized world.
For more information, to become a sponsor, or to receive a game schedule, contact Omar Amores, Program Director at (212) 242-4140 Ext. 263, or visit greenwichhouse.org/basketball.