HomeNewsDenmark Hoops giving kids the option of basketball

Denmark Hoops giving kids the option of basketball

Denmark isn’t the most populated area of Madison County, but the participation the youth basketball league there has generated in recent years is enough to have its leaders hope it will have long-term effects on the success of high school basketball across the entire county.

Denmark Hoops has been in existence since 1999, giving young athletes from ages 4-13 a chance to compete and work on their basketball skills on Saturday mornings in the winter.

Nearly half of the girls’ basketball players from South Side that just won the Class 3A state championship are Denmark Hoops alumni including Jakkarah Anderson, Albany Collins, Kimora Currie, Akira Lacy, Myla Lacy and Felicity Long.

Tez Ellison is a product of Denmark and South Jackson and grew up playing basketball and baseball in different youth leagues in the area. He knows the importance sports and leagues like Denmark Hoops can play in a child’s life.

“There aren’t many options that Madison County and Jackson have to offer our youth,” Ellison said. “And sports keeps a lot of kids off the streets, and if this league keeps one kid off the streets, it’s done its job.

“But hopefully it’ll keep 1,000 kids off the streets.”

As of the end of this past season, which ended two weeks ago, Ellison is now the coordinator of Denmark Hoops. He takes the reins from Nick Maclin, who’d been the coordinator as long as Ellison can remember.

“Nick just wanted to do something for the Denmark community to give them something more – a different option,” Ellison said. “Because if you give a kid different options – with sports being one of them – it can give them a different outlook on life and can change a person’s look at school and help them get their education paid for and help them be successful in life.”

Denmark Hoops is a co-ed league with three age groups that total about 100 children who came out for the league this past year.

“We had enough girls this season that we’re considering either splitting off boys and girls or letting girls have the option to play in either an all-girls league or play with the boys to make them tougher,” Ellison said. “But that’s something we’ll decide between now and next season.”

Registration for each season is in October with teams drafted in November. Coaches have the end of November and December to work with their teams before games start each Saturday in January.

The games have been held in the old West High gym for most of the league’s existence, but they had to move to Denmark Elementary the past couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The school system has been great working with us,” Ellison said. “[Denmark Principal Kimberly Quinn] has let us in there, and [Jackson-Madison County School Board Chairman James “Pete” Johnson] has been there every week.

“He’s shown real leadership because Mr. Pete is there running our concession stand during the games and then taking out trash and cleaning bathrooms when it’s over.”

Ellison said the league has gotten plenty of support from the high school coaches across JMCSS with South Side coaches DaMonn Fuller and Brent McNeal showing up for games along with North Side boys’ coach Aaron Woods and Liberty girls’ coach Jeremy Simmons.

“People might think this is just a South Side thing because Denmark kids usually go to South Side, but if parents from all across the county want to bring their kids here to play, we’ll be glad to include them,” Ellison said. “We want to see basketball in the county get better because watching the Lady Hawks win state last weekend was great.

“But we’re big enough that we can have multiple teams competing for state every year. But the high schools need good feeder programs.”

Ellison said Denmark Hoops is planning a fundamentals camp – possibly multiple camps – during the offseason to help the players get even more instruction while they’re young.

“You should be able to dribble a basketball by the time you get to middle school,” Ellison said. “But some of our middle school coaches are having to teach basic fundamentals like that before they can get to the more complicated parts of the game.

“And if they’re that far behind in middle school, how much more basic coaching are the high school coaches having to do when these kids get to them?”

Ellison said while improving basketball in every high school in the county is a goal, giving kids an outlet and something to do is the main goal.

“I appreciate the opportunities to play that I had coming up, and the kids coming up now need those opportunities too,” Ellison said.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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