Last April, the Wintarian Basketball League was nothing more than a figment of Rob Davis III’s imagination.
The space behind Celebration Church in Columbia was still just a patch of grass, and any designs for it to be more than that were still a month away from being put into motion.
A lot, however, can change in a year.
On May 1, Wintarian Athletics will launch its spring season of outdoor basketball offerings with nine leagues spanning middle school players to adults for both men and women. Last July, the first men’s league games tipped off on a newly constructed blacktop court, and over the ensuing four months the number of offerings for different age groups kept growing.
The interest was so high that lights were installed around the court during the offseason so games this spring can go later into the evening to meet the demand for court time for all the leagues.
“Before we started, there was just no way of knowing what the interest was going to be. But after a few weeks, especially once we got the high school leagues going, it was pretty obvious that we were onto something,” said Davis, a 2014 graduate of Marriotts Ridge High and the league’s director. “It’s just gone so much better than expected and now this year is all about keeping it going and growing.”
Games will take place Wednesdays through Sundays. Weekday games will start at 5 p.m. and go until 10 p.m., while weekend contests will begin as early as 8 a.m. on Saturdays and run straight through the evening.
“I’d say the thing we learned most from last year was how to handle scheduling … what works and what doesn’t,” Davis said. “Our team did an amazing job last year and I expect things to go even smoother this spring.”
In addition to the outdoor basketball court, there is also now a brand new fitness facility on site. Group fitness lessons and personal training options are available, with certified trainer and nutritionist Samantha Brooks on board to help lead the way.
“The indoor gym is all about adding on to our vision, which is promoting health and wellness throughout the church and in the local community,” Davis said. “This whole thing started with basketball, but that’s just one piece of what we are building.”
Davis added that he is hoping to add video streaming of games and potentially food trucks on site this year to add to the overall experience for participants.
Registration for this spring is open through April 28 at https://wintarianathletics.org/. Players can register either as part of a team or as an individual — in which case they will be placed on an existing team with open spots.
Glenelg grad Noelle Frost garners multiple Defensive Player of Week honors
Following a week in which she averaged 6.5 saves per game in a pair of wins over No. 6 Rutgers, University of Maryland field hockey goalie Noelle Frost was recognized with a pair of awards.
Frost, a 2016 Glenelg High grad and a first team All-Decade performer during her time playing for the Gladiators, was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Two days later, she was honored as the Play Safe Turf & Track/NFHCA Division I Defensive Player of the Week.
It’s the fourth time in her career, and first time this season, that Frost has been recognized with the weekly award by the Big Ten. It’s also her third National Player of the Week honor, previously earning the distinction on Sept. 18, 2019 and Oct. 9, 2019.
Frost is a graduate senior this spring for the Terps and is an every-game starter for the second straight season. In 2019, she notched eight shutouts in 21 starts and then this spring she has registered four shutouts in 15 games.
Last week, she started with seven saves — including three in the fourth quarter — in a 4-2 victory over the Scarlet Knights on April 15. Two days later, she made six stops to help secure the sweep of the weekend series courtesy of a 2-1 win.
Girls Player of Week (April 17): Navleen Kaur, Reservoir volleyball
On a Gators’ team that featured rotating lineups all season based on fluctuating player availability, Kaur was one of the mainstays and most consistent pieces at outside hitter.
In her first season as an every-game rotation player, she thrived in pretty much every aspect. The senior was second in the serve rotation, a natural leader defensively and also among the team leaders in kills. At 5-foot-3, she wasn’t your typical power hitter, but she continually delivered in big situations.
“She was our quiet star. When we needed something done, whatever it was, she never hesitated this year to step up and get it done. And I think the big thing was that she just exuded confidence right from the beginning,” Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante said. “She was our energy from the bench as a junior, and she carried that same enthusiasm and energy with her onto the court as a senior. I can’t talk enough about how important she was to our success.”
On the way to helping Reservoir finish undefeated and secure the program’s first county title since 2007, Kaur compiled totals of 12 aces, 27 kills and a team-leading 58 digs. In the team’s county tournament semifinal victory over Marriotts Ridge, she had nine digs and a pair of kills. The next night in the championship win over Howard, she tied for second on the team with five kills to go along with a pair of aces.
It was on her serve that Reservoir compiled several lengthy runs in both matches.
“She’s so accurate that you could tell her to serve it on one particular tile on the other side of the floor and she could do it,” Ferrante said. “And she’s smart too, seeing what the other team’s defense is doing and then strategically serving to different spots to move them around. That was huge in those matches late in the year.”
Boys Player of Week (April 17): Sam Bussink, Centennial football
Bussink’s late-game heroics last Friday led the Eagles to a 20-14 comeback win over Long Reach and the program’s first two-game winning streak since November 2013. The senior quarterback connected with Brendan Hlibok for two passing touchdowns in the final 30 minutes for the improbable victory.
Most impressive about Bussink’s performance, Centennial head coach Billy Martin said, was that the signal caller had gotten hurt earlier in the game. Being able to play through the injury, which hindered his rushing ability, showed Martin how “confident” Bussink had become.
“He believes in himself and has always thought he could get the job done,” Martin said. “He’s cool, calm and collected, and that’s what allowed him to go out there and make that happen.”
After serving as Centennial’s backup quarterback last season — during which the Eagles took their first step toward turning around the program by winning their first game since 2016 — Bussink this season has guided the once-fraught program to being competitive in four of its five contests. Centennial, which ended the season 2-3, defeated Reservoir and Long Reach and lost close games to Mt. Hebron and Oakland Mills.
Bussink, who was a freshman when the Eagles couldn’t field a football team in 2017, ended the season with 507 yards through the air, four touchdowns and four interceptions on 44-of-88 passing.