If you build it, they will come: St. Brendan Basketball

| December 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

I never played basketball as a youth, so it was quite a learning experience when my friend Joe Byrne invited me to be his assistant coach on the Saint Brendan Basketball Association (SBBA) teams on which our sons were members. During one of the two seasons we coached together, the squad went undefeated, then it won the post-season tournament.

I take no credit for that. Joe Byrne is a great coach.

The SBBA has been my son’s favorite athletic league since he began playing organized sports six years ago. He’s participated in baseball, flag football, basketball, soccer, indoor rock climbing and tennis.

The SBBA is relatively new. In 2010, a group of parents, led by Jason Kruse, formed a neighborhood recreational youth basketball league. Prior to that, the choices for local kids who wanted to play organized basketball were the Pan Pacific or Hollywood YMCA leagues.

If adding a third program locally might have seemed excessive, consider this: In 2017, the year Joe and I coached the SBBA’s French Lick Hoosiers (that’s another story), the league had grown to 280 players and 28 teams. It’s the best league for beginners because the rules insist on equal playing time for all members. The SBBA also implements a policy for the younger divisions where the defense must set up and remain inside the three-point line, which promotes offensive plays and strategy.


SBBA plays games at St. Brendan’s sports center.

The groundwork for the SBBA’s formation began much earlier than its actual inaugural season.

St. Brendan School first opened in 1915, and its original two-story brick building faced Western Avenue. In 1960, it was deemed outdated and demolished. A new building was constructed on the same site, but this time facing the opposite direction so that the entrance was on Manhattan Place.

In 2004, St. Brendan purchased a lot next to the school. The original plan was to build a playground or library, but the parish head, Monsignor Terrance Fleming, didn’t believe those were the best options for the space. Students didn’t research through books or read as much anymore, and when they did, it was usually on computers.

“I wanted to blend the ideas of a hall and a sports center,” explained Fleming. “I didn’t want just a gymnasium. We built a stage, and there are no lockers or showers.”

League’s conception

The first organized basketball games in St. Brendan’s new multi-purpose facility did not include children, and it wasn’t an official league. Two groups of men gathered once a week on different nights for pickup games. One group included players over 40, and the other contained the young guns, men in their 20s and 30s.

“I think each person paid $5 a night to play,” said Fleming.

Even though the SBBA is hosted by St Brendan’s Parish, the league is not Catholic-exclusive, and never has been.

“I wanted a neighborhood facility,” said Fleming.

And is it ever. It’s also run by the community. After Jason and Jackie Kruse’s sons outgrew the league, the reins were turned over to Brendan Malloy and Pat Tostado, whose children played in the SBBA. Presently, the league’s commissioner is Abel DeLuna.

The SBBA season runs from January to March and is for ages 6-13. There are four divisions, and the season ends with a playoff tournament that spans two weekends. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the SBBA’s 2021 season is cancelled.

Joe Byrne didn’t coach last season. He thought he’d take a year off. This meant I didn’t get to coach either. Our sons have one more season left in the SBBA after this year.

Hey Joe, I want to coach again.

By Jim Kalin

Tags: , ,

Category: People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *