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Sparks league offers girls a place to play

August 08, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — When Suzy Roman took over the Brawley Police Activities League's Shooting Sparks girls basketball league, she didn't want it to be just another basketball league.

What the 33-year-old Roman had in mind was a league that at-risk girls ranging from 7 to 15 years old could call their own.

Whereas other local basketball leagues are coed and mostly dominated by boys, the Sparks league is strictly for girls.

"I think this is a really important league for these girls. I would say that about 50 percent of them wouldn't join a regular basketball league because they'd be afraid to play with and against boys," said Roman, the league organizer for three years. "But this league isn't just about basketball. There's a whole other level behind it.

"We give these girls who are at-risk a place to go and give them a chance to do something," Roman said. "We also stress the importance of staying in school and try to motivate and encourage these girls to go out for high school basketball. So it really is more than basketball. I think what we have here is a small community in itself."


It is a small community that has grown to more than 75 participants on seven teams in 7-11-year-old and 12-15-year-old divisions.

The league is in its fourth year and is free to girls wanting to play. A handful of girls have participated every season.

"It's really a lot of fun coming out here because you get to perfect your basketball skills, get experience and you also get to meet new people," said 15-year-old Miranda Atrian, who has played all four years.

Said 14-year-old Laura Rubio, another four-year veteran: "If it wasn't for this league, I don't know what I'd be doing. I'd probably just be at home doing nothing. So this league is pretty important."

The Sparks league is important to the coaches, too.

Rosemarie Lorenzana is the coach of the Razorbacks in the Sparks league and a former four-year basketball player at Brawley Union High. She said she ultimately would like to coach on the high school level and is using her time in the Sparks league to gain valuable coaching experience.

"This is my first time coaching and I'm using this kind of as a stepping stone to get into high school coaching," said the 24-year-old Lorenzana, a 1995 Brawley High graduate. "So it's really good experience for me. The girls aren't just learning from me, but I'm also learning from them."

Lorenzana said she would have liked to have had such a league when she was younger.

"They didn't have anything like this back then. And I think it's a good idea that they've had this going," said Lorenzana. "It's really important for a lot of people, but I think everyone involved is having fun. And I think more than anything, everybody out here having fun is the most important thing."

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