Boys and girls will participate in basketball while cheerleading primarily will be for girls.
Parents will pay a fee for their children to participate in basketball or cheerleading. The fee, which has not yet been determined, will cover the cost of a jersey and T-shirt for the basketball players. Shorts will cost extra as will a top and skort, megaphone and poms for the cheerleaders. Publications with scriptures to be used in the devotionals at practice and games also will be given to the players and cheerleaders. A skills test for the children who want to participate in the basketball program will be given at some time in November. "Results of the test will be plugged into a computer, and the computer will determine each child's skill level," said Scarlett Ingram.
Best said the program leaders are using results of the skills test in the assignment of the kids to teams to make sure that no team or teams are "stacked" with high skill level players. "One of the rules of the program is that every child, no matter what their skill level, will be given ample playing time," he said. The teams will be comprised of children in the same age groups and they will play each other, Best said.
Practice begins in December.
Basketball and scripture
"At each practice the coach will lead the children in a devotional," Best said. "The purpose is for the children to learn scriptures as well as how to play a sport the right way."
An eight-week schedule of games will start in January. All games will be played on Saturdays in the gym in Immanuel's Outreach Center. Games will last about an hour. Scores will not be kept. Fouls will be called, but referees will explain each foul after he or she blows the whistle.
At half-time of each game, the parents, grandparents and other family members of the players and cheerleaders will take part in a devotional. After the game, different colored stars for best offense, best defense, effort, sportsmanship and other positive play or behavior will be awarded to players.
"Every player will receive a star for something," Best said.
The pastor said the Upward program is aimed at developing both the physical bodies and the spiritual lives of the children.
"It's as much about developing character as it is about developing athletic skills," he said.
And Scarlett Ingram knows from first-hand experience that the program can accomplish what Best hopes it will at Immanuel. A few years ago her two daughters participated in the Upward program at Harrodsburg Baptist Church.
"One of my daughters played basketball and the other was a cheerleader, while I was a cheerleading coach," she said. "It was a great experience for all three of us," she added.
"The children learned not only the fundamentals of basketball and cheerleading but also learned to grow closer to Christ, and, as a coach, I enjoyed helping facilitate that learning process."
SO YOU KNOW
What: Upward basketball and cheerleading programs
Where: Immanuel Baptist Church
Who: children from Boyle County who are in kindergarten through fifth grade.
For more information: call Immanuel at (859) 236-5073 or go online at www.ibcsbc.org.