A 3v3 Basketball League of Their Own

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A women’s 3v3 basketball league isn’t just a new addition to the Naperville Park District’s offerings, it’s already among the hottest tickets in town. Find out why the league is so popular as we visit Fort Hill on this edition of Sports Story Sunday.

Something new and exciting is brewing inside the Fort Hill recreation center

Melanie Riley: “I think this league hits in the spectrum of competitive women who want to get out and just have a good time. And also ex-collegiate and high school athletes that really have a competitive drive. It’s a really good sense of community and camaraderie. And if they continue to offer sports outside of basketball and soccer, I think they’d be surprised how many people would show up and play.”

These are the Cobras. Melanie Riley is joined by Jessica Hogan, Kim Whitecotton and Clementina Kucharis in the new women’s basketball 3 vs 3 league run by the Naperville Park District.

The journey to this point started with a question and has exploded since

Fred Gusel: “Some ladies approached me asking us, why don’t we offer a league, I went back and did some research. Unfortunately, lack of interest. A full court league, we just couldn’t get it up and running. So we tried a 3v3, small court, smaller teams and we were anticipating 6-8 teams… we have 14 teams and 6 on a wait list.”

Fred Gusel is the program manager for, amongst other things, adult basketball leagues. In his 10 years with the park district, they have never run a women’s league. And now? The overwhelming interest has forced the planned move for the men’s leagues to go from Tuesday to Thursday. Not to mention additional changes to the women’s league.

Gusel: “Next year we’re going to break it down in to divisions – we’ll have an A level and a B level, maybe a recreation division. Because we do see some of those different levels sort themselves out in league play right now. In order to help accommodate that though, this year, we’re going to have two tiers of playoffs. To give a better opportunities for more winners to encourage them to keep playing and having fun.”

Clementina Kucharis: “We joined to play basketball… for the love of the game but we found that there are many levels. And since it’s the first year, we’re learning from this… probably next year we’re going to do some competitive and some (recreational).”

The level of play may shift some teams to different tiers, and although some players may have more experience and play at a higher level – all participants can find a role on the court

Jessica Hogan: “I’m a lacrosse person by trade, I played one year in high school of basketball… but I play defense so… I prefer some of the other teammates to shoot, but I’ll throw it up every once in a while.”

Kucharis“Some of us are not in shape, some of us are in very good shape, so it’s good that we only have half a court… even though it is a lot of running, at least you’re not just sprinting.”

Overall, the league is an opportunity for women, and in particular moms, to get out of the house and get active. Something that excites the four-player team.

Riley: “I think this is a safe space for women who have never tried it before, it’s a coaching environment. We can stop the game and talk about the rules and help everyone get better.”

Kucharis “We kind of knew each other because we’re just a bunch of moms – who wants to play ‘me, huh, whats’ basketball?, yeah, sure, whatever. So we’re here to have fun and get to know other moms and enjoy basketball. (and win, we like to win) we’re competitive.”

Kim Cottonwhite: “Getting to know everyone and having a good time, it’s been nice (and the beer) this might be our first year, but you’ll probably see this team as long as this league is alive.”

Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman