ROCKINGHAM — You would be hard pressed to find a basketball collective in the surrounding area that’s more competitive, Taneika Reader says, than the Richmond Jammers Summer League.
The league, in its fifth year, has 25 teams across six age groups (4-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 18-21, men) that have consistently brought a crowd out to the Falling Creek Park Gymnasium since things started a little more than two weeks ago.
“It’s one of the most competitive leagues you’ll find throughout the whole county,” said Reader, who runs the Richmond Jammers organization. “We have fun and the kids enjoy the environment. It’s like a big family here.
“We’re basically trying to do something to keep the kids off the street during the summertime, keep them busy and active,” she added. “We’re open to everybody and we want to invite (the community) to come out and support us.”
Every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, specatators can catch at least four games that feature some of the youngest talents in the area, current and former Richmond Senior High School student athletes, a handful of local coaches and other members of the surrounding communities who simply love to play the game of basketball.
The reigning men’s league champions, Team Josh, are captained by former Raider Josh Calhoun — who was named First Team All-American by the Basketball Times this past March following an explosive senior season at Pfeiffer University. His 1,655 career points were good enough for 10th place on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Calhoun’s journey to and through college is the kind of story Reader hopes inspires the kids who participate in the summer league and are members of her organization, because Calhoun — a Jammer from the time he was in eighth grade until he graduated from high school — was once in their shoes. He’s a product of what Reader likes to call the “Jammer Lifestyle.”
“(I want) to put the kids on the most competitive playing level as possible and to get some to college. That’s our mission,” she explained. “If I can get one into college, I’ve done my job. That’s all I want, is to see them get to that level.
“I love basketball, it’s always been my thing,” added Reader, who played at Richmond and then earned a scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University. “I went to college to play basketball but I didn’t pursue my dream as far as I wanted to, so I feel like giving back to the kids is my way of sticking through with basketball. I feel like that’s what I was set here to do.”
The league will host its annual All-Star Weekend next Saturday and Sunday, July 14-15.
According to Reader, things are going to be done “just like the NBA,” with the hot-shot contest, skills competition and three-point shootout being the precursors to the much-anticipated dunk contest that is set to close opening night.
On Sunday, all of the top players from every age group will compete in their respective All-Star Games.
“The kids love seeing people dunk, so that’ll be the most exciting part,” Reader said. “With the All-Star game … it really makes the kids go harder when they’re out here playing because they’re trying to get that all-star recognition.”
There will be no games the week immediately after All-Star Weekend, but action will resume on Sunday, July 22.
Playoffs begin Wednesday, July 25, and will run until the final championship game is played on Friday, Aug. 3.
For more information, contact Reader on Facebook at “Taneika Reader.”
Team Greg and Team Nip, members of the men’s league, battle it out during a regular season game on Thursday, July 5, at Falling Creek.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.