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Upward basketball hits court with purpose

With the first weekend of its season in the books, the Upward Basketball League is getting into high gear now.

While the league has been around for three years now, many are finding out about for the first time now.

Regardless, the people who are a part of it have just a few things in mind when they step on the court – teaching the game of basketball and teaching the ways of the Bible.

Tanner Poole and Cruise Young who are both students at Troy University spend their free team coaching in the Upward Basketball league.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Poole said.

“You never know what the kids are going to say or do though,” he said with a laugh. “So things are always interesting.”

The two help coach seven and eight-year-olds on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is win all the team’s practice and also on Saturdays when the league’s games take place.

“It’s pretty cool how the kids [in the league] can learn both the game of basketball and scripture at the same,” Young added. While this is the first season coaching for both Poole and Young, they both said it is something they enjoy – even if their kids have a hard time staying focused, at times.

“Once you get them organized, they can pick up what we are trying to teach them pretty well,” Poole said. “It’s a lot of fun to teach them the game and about Jesus and get their point of view about it.”

Like Poole and Young, Wes Allen is also a coach for an Upward team.

However, unlike the two student-coaches, this is Allen’s third year at the helm of a team.

“Practices have been going pretty well now,” Allen said about his team, which is made up of first and second graders.

“Basketball is something that the kids enjoy being playing a lot, but Upward is about something more and that is something I think the kids understand and embrace.”

Allen said that the main thing he teaches his team is the basics of the game – everything from shooting to dribbling.

One rule in the league is that all the players must have equal playing time, which is something that benefits everyone.

“That’s one of the good things about [Upward], everyone gets to participate in the game,” he said.

“It is a special league where kids can play basketball and learn the teachings of Jesus.”