Regan Roberts League Teams Keep the Ball Rolling

Andrew Beville and William Gillespie.

When the late Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School physical education teacher, Regan Roberts, organized an instructional basketball league in the early 1990s for the youth in Blythewood, she probably had no idea how important that league would eventually become to the community.

Her goal was to teach young people not just how to play basketball, but what it means to be on a team. She wanted them to know that success is not about winning, but about improving and working together for a common goal. She wanted the league to be a source of fun and friendships that would last a lifetime.

And it has become that for thousands of Blythewood, Ridgeway and Winnsboro youth over the ensuing years.

Following Roberts’ untimely death from cancer in 1998, members of the community, Bill Lackey, Tom Walker, Sam Lake and others have carried on the league that was Roberts’ passion.

Trinity UMC in downtown Blythewood and Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School provide the league with gyms for practice and play. Parents volunteer as coaches and show up in droves to cheer their children at Saturday games. Businesses in town provide financial support through sponsorships.

What began as a league for elementary age youth has expanded to include all grade levels.

“That came about,” said the league’s director, Barry Mizzell, “when the kids got older they wanted to continue to play. So we added the higher grades.”

As the players grow past league age, some return as coaches. League play runs from November through the first week in February.

The teams include both boys and girls and team placement is determined by a series of try outs so each team is fairly balanced by gender and skills.

The only paid staff are Mizzell and two referees, Arthur Osburn and Carnell Seibles, who have been with the league since its beginning.

“These men are both high school league officials and they are clearly a big reason for the success of this league,” Mizzell said. “They’re worth their weight in gold.”

On Feb. 2, the last day of play this season, a banquet was held at the Trinity gym. Bill Sullivan and Karen Lake oversee volunteers who provide lunch for the players and their families. And, on that day, everyone who played on a team received a trophy.

But the real reward for the players on that day and for the rest of their lives, is not the trophy, but what they learned . . . just as Regan Roberts planned.

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