Volunteer organizes Kearns Junior High girls basketball team
Apr 15, 2020 04:48PM
By Greg James
A group of seventh and eighth grade girls played a season of basketball because one volunteer stepped up and made it available. (Photo courtesy of Josh Sanders)
Kearns High School had only 30 girls try out for the girls basketball team this season. Josh Sanders, a substitute teacher at the junior high wanted to increase those numbers and make a difference in a group of girls' lives. The only way he knew how was to invite girls to give the game a try.
“I grew up in Kearns,” Sanders said. “I wanted to give back, so when coach (Andrew) Walker told me that Kearns Junior did not have a coach, I went and asked if I could do it.”
At the first practice, 27 girls showed up; 17 stuck around the entire season.
“Most of the girls had never played,” Sanders said. “I had to teach them from the ground up. In fact, I think some of them had never touched a ball.”
The Granite School District offers intramural style athletics for participating schools. It is designed to provide exercise, recreation, competition and fun for the student-athletes.
The team lost all five of its games this season.
“They got better every day at practice and our games,” Sanders said. “We spent most of two months practicing. At the end of the season, the girls wanted more.”
At that point, Sanders looked for and found another opportunity for the girls to continue playing. He asked the team if they would like to play in the county’s Junior Jazz program.
“I asked my Facebook friends for donations,” he said. “We earned about $1,000 to pay fees and buy a few of the girls shoes and shorts.”
The recreation season lasted seven games. The girls were divided into two teams. Sanders, his daughter, a friend and another parent (Kenzee Paredes) coached the teams.
“These girls made friends that will last a lifetime, and now they call a total stranger coach,” Sanders said. “I think one of the girls plays football, but most of them don’t have the money or opportunity to play many sports. They are really great kids who face a lot of challenges. It was a way for them to stay busy, get involved and have fun.”
His ultimate goal is to increase the number of girls that want to play the game.
“Coach Walker wants to get as many as 50 girls at tryouts,” he said. “After having two winless seasons, Kearns is on the right track. This year, they had quite a few wins.”
The Cougars finished this season with 12 wins.
“He is a great coach (Walker),” Sanders said. “I think Kearns will win a game or two in the state playoffs next season. Kearns is not like other areas. There are no AAU teams out here for the girls to feed into the high school.”
Basketball is not the only thing on Sanders’ list. He is beginning to set out to make a difference in the lives of another group of area youth, mountain bikers. He is currently organizing efforts to make a west side team.