Bayley Lindgren and Kayla Livingston noticed a need for a second middle school basketball team in the First City.
And as it turned out, they weren’t the only two.
Lindgren and Livingston both work at the Ketchikan Charter School — Lindgren, a third-grade teacher, and Livingston, the school’s principal — and the two started asking around town late last school year, to see if anyone would be interested in participating.
The response was only positive.
“We have kids that wanted to play. There was a desire,” Lindgren said. “And we just kind of kept asking around last spring, and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested if we got something together?’
“We felt like we had enough kids to put together a team that could be competitive in Southeast with smaller schools,” she continued.
Fast forward a few months later, and the charter school now has two brand new basketball teams — a boys’ squad and a girls’ squad — set with middle school players from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
KCS is set to make its basketball debut on Prince of Wales Island this weekend, with a pair of games against Klawock on Friday and Saturday.
“We’re going to play as a B team this year, just because it’s our first year,” Lindgren said. “With the size of our pool (of players), we’re pretty competitive with schools, like Prince of Wales size schools.”
Lindgren, who coaches the girls’ team, will have her squad tipoff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday against Klawock. The boys’ team, coached by Jimmy Iverson, will start its game against Klawock at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
Games on Saturday will flip, with the boys’ playing first, at 6 p.m., and the girls’ starting their game at 7 p.m.
“The kids wanted to (play), and I was really excited to coach because I’ve loved basketball my whole life, and this is kind of a way to do it as an adult,” Lindgren said.
A 2013 graduate of Ketchikan High School, Lindgren played basketball for Kelly Smith and the Kayhi Lady Kings. She reached out to her former coach, asking him how to start a team.
“‘What do I need? What kind of forms do I need to fill out?’ All of that kind of stuff,” she said of reaching out to Smith. “It’s pretty much been Kayla and I, back and forth, just plugging along, and getting all of the things in order. And now we have two teams.”
Lindgren and Livingston worked throughout the summer, getting everything squared away for the Ketchikan Charter School’s inaugural season.
“We just kind of went for it,” Lindgren said. “We’ve been learning as we go, I guess I would say, in trying to get everything started from square one, and reaching out to all the contacts.”
Lindgren also reached out to Schoenbar Middle School girls’ basketball coach Kristie Bernston.
“I think Schoenbar is excited about it, too,” Lindgren said.
With two middle school teams in the same community, now, they won’t always have to wait for the weekend to play games.
“We have people we can play, and we can try different things out,” Lindgren said of playing against Schoenbar. “(It does) not always have it be a full trip, or ferry to somewhere else, or have another team come here. We can kind of just play back and forth, midweek, if we want to — or even just scrimmage if we don’t want to make it a big, official thing. So that’s kind of an exciting part of now having two middle school teams in the same community.”
KCS and Schoenbar are scheduled to play each other next week — on a Tuesday.
The Oct. 26 matchup might be the start of a new in-town rivalry. Or maybe not. But the number of middle school aged kids representing two different schools in Ketchikan, on the same floor, will certainly bring promise for the sport for years to come.
In previous years, students in the Ketchikan School District that attended alternative learning schools, like KCS, could tryout for the Schoenbar team. But that doesn’t mean the kids always would.
Now with the charter school having its own set of basketball teams, the doors are open to more students getting involved.
“That was probably the purpose behind it — just us looking at the community and things that we need,” Lindgren said. “We want to have a really competitive high school program. But I’m pretty sure the Schoenbar team only keeps 14 or 15 kids. And that’s a pretty small pool that goes into Kayhi having some pretty competitive game experience, outside of (Ketchikan Dribblers League).
“So we’re giving these kids ... just a more competitive game structure,” she continued. “And hopefully that will create a bigger pool of kids that want to play basketball in high school, and make our high school team even better in the future.”
And that’s something the Kayhi teams are certainly in favor of.
“100%,” Lindgren said.