University Communications | May 16, 2012

The league is open to all employees and students as well as women in the greater Tucson community.

Coach Joey Lomeli talks to his Las Tucson Sol team during a huddle at Saturday's game at the Student Recreation Center. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Haynes)

Sporty women in search of an outlet for their talents need look no further than Campus Recreation.

The Women's Basketball League has bounced back to life, and while the season is winding down, Campus Recreation is accepting registration for the new season that begins June 16.

The program has been offered on and off for the last five years, said Mirum Washington-White, assistant director of sports programs for Campus Recreation.

Initially, he was approached by a group of campus women who had been getting together on weekends to play basketball, to see if Campus Recreation could put together a league.

Washington-White said it was easy to make that happen. The first year, the league had 15 teams competing against each other every Saturday morning.

Soon after, budget cuts set in, and the program was dropped for a couple years, he said.

Then he began thinking again about the recreation center's mission to offer community outreach, and around the same time he received another call from a woman basketball player, again asking if he could put together a league.

He found a way to make it work, he said.

Normally, there are anywhere from six to nine teams competing during a season, he said.

Currently, there are six teams, including some teenagers and their coaches from Salpointe Catholic High School and the Tucson Cats Girls Basketball Club.

"Everybody in this city plays basketball. If they can find a court, they'll play," Washington-White said.

Campus Recreation's facilities are popular because the games are officiated and air-conditioned, with wall-mounted scoreboards and an on-site eatery that many players visit after their games, he said.

Joey Lomeli, who coaches Las Tucson Sol – a team of women in the Campus Recreation league who also play for a league that travels overseas to play (website says they are looking to pay overseas ... have they actually done it?) – said the Campus Recreation league is important because there are so few opportunities for women to play ball after they're out of high school or college.

There are plenty of children's leagues and men's leagues, he said.

"But as far as women after high school, there wasn't anything," Lomeli said.

His youngest player is 18, and his oldest is 37. Many played basketball in college, and they are from colleges of all different sizes. And unless they turned professional after college, he said, there wasn't anywhere else for them to go.

"It gives them an opportunity. Nobody else gives them an opportunity," Lomeli said.

Washington-White said he was surprised at the high level of interest when the league first began, especially from middle-aged career women.

Then he realized that many of them played team sports in high school and still have that competitive streak, he said.

Taylor Haynes just finished her junior year at the UA and works for Campus Recreation.

She's playing in the current season, which is the second time the Women's Basketball League has been offered since she's been at the University, she said. She played last time as well.

Haynes has played basketball since elementary school and had the chance to play basketball at other schools, she said, but she didn't try out for the UA team because she wanted to focus on her studies.

Even so, she still loves to play.

"I just love working out, and playing sports is one of the most fun things to do," Haynes said. 

It's OK to play with guys, too, but to her it seems to turn into a contest of showing-off rather than an actual game, she said.

Of the Campus Recreation league, she said, "There are a lot of women here who are really, really good."

There are career women, including one team where half the members are members of the Air Force, she said.

Some players are nurses. Many are students.

"We've got a wide variety," she said.

But regardless of where the players come from, she said, one thing is for certain: "It's competitive, definitely. You have got to bring your game every time, which I definitely enjoy."

Registration is $275 per team of up to 12 players. Games are 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday at the Student Recreation Center. Email Mirum Washington-White for information on how to register.

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