Summer basketball league wraps up

Published 5:55 pm Sunday, July 29, 2018


Daily News

There’s nowhere he’d rather be.

Basketball has been such a vital part of Sam Cotton’s life, and he loves being in a gym, surrounded by players who want to better themselves.

That’s what makes a summer basketball league Cotton runs each summer such a joy for the veteran coach.

For eight years, Cotton has been offering the Summer Basketball Shootout at the Griggs Recreation Center.

Each summer, dozens of basketball players of varying ages and skill levels have gotten together at Griggs for the league.

The format remains the same.

The players are divided into teams, and they compete for about four hours each Saturday, and each session ends with a mini-tournament.

After the final game, a winner is crowned, and the players pose for a photo with the championship belt.

It’s a basketball league, but Cotton said “it’s about life skills, too. That’s a constant.”

Cotton added that the league is “a blessing for me. I live vicariously through them, when they’re doing what’s right.

“There’s something they might do wrong, but they learn from it. You don’t pout about it. You grow and get better. And they’re good kids.”

While most of the players are in high school, there is a wide discrepancy in the ages of the league members.

During Saturday’s session, there were middle-school players competing alongside men who have long since left their school days behind.

One of the “old” guys is Cornorris Burks, a senior on the 2010-2011 Callaway team.

Burks has helped Cotton run the league, and he said “it’s fun to watch the little kids grow up, and follow in our footsteps. Because they look at us as role models.”

Burks added that “it’s real exciting to see them grow up, and watch them through middle school, and the rec leagues, and high school.”

Another high-school graduate participating in the league is Nigel Maddox, who is joined each week by a close group of friends.

Maddox is the founder of an organization called G1GB, which stands for God first, God bless.

Maddox passed out T-shirts bearing the organization’s logo to the players each week in an effort to get the word out.

“It’s really a blessing for me to start off so small, and get it off the ground and get going with it,” Maddox said. “It’s just a positive.”

While sportsmanship is heavily stressed during league play, the competition doesn’t take a backseat.

To help fuel the fire, the teams are named after the local high schools.

“I’ve got team LaGrange, team Callaway, and team Troup,” Cotton said. “That brings competition. Some of them will jump team to team, but I basically keep you with whatever you school you go to.”

One of the things Cotton enjoys about the league is seeing some of the same players coming back year after year.

The league has been going on for nearly a decade, so Cotton has watched some of the players start as high-school players, and now they’re adults with jobs and families.

“There’s a lot of them that come back. I love it,” Cotton said. “They come out and teach.”

While Saturday league play has wrapped up, Cotton said the players will still have the option of coming out to the Griggs Center on Thursday nights until high-school basketball season begins.

OF NOTE: For more photos from Saturday, check out