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Carlisle Summer League

Carlisle Summer League returns after pair of COVID-canceled years

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Carlisle Summer League Championship

The ball is up for grabs during the 2019 14U championship game at the Carlisle Summer League at Memorial Park.

For the first time since 2019, the Carlisle Summer League is ready to return to Memorial Park.

After a pair of canceled seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league is slated to begin Tuesday with its first set of games. The Carlisle Summer league is a free co-ed basketball program that consists of 10U, 12U and 14U teams. Games are played Tuesday and Thursday nights at Memorial Park in Carlisle. The summer league was started through the vision of the Carlisle Community Coalition and executive director Preston Stackfield and made possible with sponsorships and support from local businesses and organizations.

Carlisle Summer League co-executive directors Jordan Stasyszyn and Tim Atkinson are eager for the league’s homecoming.

“I think that feeling of togetherness again is gonna go a long way,” Atkinson said. “I think the Carlisle Summer League has become symbolic of that togetherness in the community, especially when you start piecing together all the different backgrounds that did come together for those two nights of the week in the park. We’re really looking forward to that the most beyond just the basketball.”

The Carlisle Summer League is much more than basketball. While the league helps young athletes in an array of capacities on the court, items such as impacting the community and focusing on schoolwork are core values the league centers on.

Prior to opening night, all participants are required to hand in a physical copy of their last marking period report card. If any grades show a D or F equivalency, the athlete is required to take part in a one-hour Monday study session to be eligible to play for the week. In addition to the focus on schoolwork, players clean up trash at Memorial Park after every game and have the opportunity to form relationships with others from around the region.

Both were traditions that started in 2019.

“Just having all different walks of life and backgrounds and everything in the park at one time is huge,” Stasyszyn said. “And I think from a kid standpoint, aside from the basketball, making them realize it’s bigger than basketball. They get some of that with the park cleanup, the tutoring sessions and also just getting to be around some kids they might not always be around.”

Stasyszyn and Atkinson said the league plans to implement new traditions this summer as well.

The most prominent is the honoring of late Carlisle native and community staple Frank Petre, who died Jan. 1 at the age of 73. The summer league will uphold Petre’s legacy — he was a 1966 Carlisle graduate and was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and track and field — by hanging up a banner on game nights and providing scholarships to volunteer coaches under Petre’s name. The league’s championship weekend, scheduled for July 30, will also be called Frank Petre Championship Saturday.

Other new customs this year include the “Frank Petre 4-point shot” where teams can score four points on an attempt beyond half court with five seconds remaining in the second and fourth quarters. The league will also honor Carlisle basketball great Billy Owens with the “Billy Owens target score,” a version of the Elam ending, where 32 points — Owens’ jersey number in high school — will be added to the leading team’s score at the end of the third quarter. The team to then reach the target score or bucket the most points at the end of the regulation wins the game.

“Carlisle, historically, just has a large basketball tradition,” Atkinson said, “and Memorial Park has kind of symbolically become a stomping ground of really good basketball from Carlisle. … So, just that excitement of seeing what’s next in a basketball historic town is really exciting.”

Summer league play opens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, spanning all age levels, and runs through the end of July. Each team will play an eight-game schedule with four byes scattered throughout the season. Games are 32 minutes and are separated by four eight-minute quarters.

A no-tolerance policy is also in full affect, meaning players and coaches are required to compete and interact with respect. Spectators are also encouraged to support everyone.

“We sort of created this environment,” Stasyszyn said. “Everyone did, not just us running it, but the people that came out to watch games and the players and coaches and the volunteers. … It’s just a positive environment, and it fosters a sense of community for everybody.”

The Carlisle Summer League will be a welcomed return after two dormant years and add another spur of normalcy for the Carlisle community, Stasyszyn and Atkinson said. The pair added the league was likely possible last summer but the threat of scheduling conflicts with the pandemic and ensuring the safety of kids and personnel outweighed the positives of hosting the event.

“I think the biggest thing to coming back is it’s such a big community event,” Stasyszyn said. “Aside from the basketball, just having everyone together at the park watching those games, I think people are really looking forward to it.”

Christian Eby is a sports reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com. You can contact him at ceby@cumberlink.com and follow him on Twitter at: @eby_sports

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