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District 25 Basketball League all-star game: A slam dunk for kids

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“It’s a phenomenal program and has been one of our best-kept secrets for 22 years,” UFT District 25 Representative Joseph Kessler said of the District 25 Basketball League, which culminated this year’s 12-game season with an all-star game at Cardozo HS on June 1 before 500 enthusiastic fans. Most of the league’s 14 teams were represented and had their own distinctive uniforms. nyt20100616_49c.jpgCoaches Ed Acampado (left) and Ray Davis address their players.

“Although all teams play to win, their rivalries are good-natured and not harshly competitive,” said Kessler (inset), an ardent sports fan who has served as league coordinator and coach for 18 years. “No standings are kept. And we are proud that all our teams, both basketball players and cheerleaders, are co-educational”. A key component of the league’s success is the support it gets from school administrators, including Jim Phair, principal of PS 107, who has been its commissioner for 15 years. Its appeal is due also, in part, to the seamless way that sports are integrated into the curriculum. League games are played during the school day with schedules custom-tailored for convenience.

nyt20100616_49b.jpgDistrict 25 basketball and cheerleader coaches gather for a pre-game group shot. The regular season usually begins in early November. Sportsmanship and team character are always emphasized, as is school spirit. Throughout the season (with a break during testing week) suspense builds and peaks for the all-star game. This year, each school had two participants, one player on each team. “Engaging in sports provides not only a multitude of learning experiences, but best of all, it’s fun,” Kessler noted.

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