What is the Acton-Boxborough Travel Basketball Program?
The Acton-Boxborough Travel Basketball Program was incorporated in 2000 and operates as a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization that manages the winter pre-scholastic competitive basketball experience for Acton and Boxborough boys and girls in the fourth through eighth grade who reside in and/or attend school in Acton and Boxborough. Though there was travel team basketball at A-B prior to 2000, it was through a program administered by the school district. Through a mutually agreed upon decision that was orchestrated over two seasons, the Acton-Boxborough Travel Basketball Program took over from the school district and became a private entity which was incorporated in 2000. The program is operated to give the children of Acton and Boxborough the opportunity to play competitive team basketball in an organized league style format.
Interest to participate in our program has grown to the level where at all levels, the demand to participate is typically greater than the number of players who will be placed on teams. It is important that everyone understand prior to registering that not all players who try-out will be selected for a team. With limited gym space, league openings, and the overall competitive nature of this program, making travel teams “select” is a practice that we and virtually all other towns in the league follow.
Since our formation, we have reinvested program funds to sponsor educational scholarships every year for graduating Acton-Boxborough seniors, facility improvements that would not have otherwise occurred, donated funds to the local schools to assist in updates in their physical education equipment, and sent donations to numerous charities that have a connection to our program. In the spring of 2006 and again in the fall of 2013, we were the primary sponsors of the Elm Street basketball court projects.
Who is eligible to try-out for an Acton-Boxborough team?
Visit our Player Eligibility Requirement page to verify that your son/daughter may try-out.
How are teams selected?
In grades four through seven, the program will make every attempt to select a roster for each team so that the players can develop both individually and together as a team. Players need to try-out each season as past participation does not guarantee a slot for subsequent seasons. Returning players that are selected should not expect to play for the same roster each season and in cases with multiple teams in the same division, they should not expect to play for the same coach they did during prior season(s). That considered though, it’s impossible to mix things up too much from season to season and to still have practical rosters. That means that in general, while rosters will change, the majority of returning players will end up on a team that is fairly similar to the one they played on last season.
In eighth grade, team selection will be much more talent focused, and we will attempt to pick the roster that will best be able to compete in a highly competitive game situation. Most eighth graders will have had up to three seasons of travel team experience to improve their skills to the point that is required to be selected for an eighth grade team.
With most teams, there will be independent evaluators (persons who are not coaching and do not have any children in that division) who will observe and in some cases, direct all aspects of the try-outs. These independent evaluators will then work with the head coaches of each division during the roster selection process.
Once teams are finalized, we ask that you respect the rosters. If your son or daughter was not chosen for a team, we are willing to offer feedback as to where your son or daughter could improve so they can try-out again in future seasons. Likewise, if your son or daughter is chosen for a team, the team that they are assigned to will be decided by coaches, directors, and evaluators only. Given the complications and controversies that will undeniably arise, specific discussions regarding player rankings and why rosters were made the way there were will not be debated with parents. Final decision on player selection is up to Directors, Coaches, and/or others appointed by them.
Who will be coaching my son or daughter?
Our teams are coached by carefully selected men and women who have significant experience with basketball at the high school and/or the college level. All coaches will be CORI’d through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Coaches will receive annual training, individual feedback, along with updates from our Board of Directors throughout the season.
Parents will be consulted by coaches and occasionally by directors on their child’s progress during the season. Should you find you have issues that are not being addressed by your child’s coach, you should always feel free to contact any or all members of the Board of Directors. At the end of the season, each family will be given a program evaluation form which helps the Board review the program as a whole, including administration, coaching, and player/team improvement. We use these comments to help improve the overall quality of the program on a year-to-year basis.
What is looked at during the try-out period?
First and foremost, it is important to understand that travel teams are select teams for kids who are dedicated to becoming better basketball players during the winter season. The try-out evaluation scale in many sports, not just basketball, at virtually any level of play, be it in fourth grade or at the NCAA level, is fairly simple, and involves three main attributes:
|Athleticism: Basketball is a very physically demanding and fast-paced activity. Above all, it is necessary for a player to be in good physical condition and to at least have the potential to be an above average overall athlete to do well in competitive basketball. A player who is in poor physical condition and who has not previously competed in team sports will probably not be selected for a team. This factor of evaluation is ranked very high at all grade levels.|
|Skill: Although Acton-Boxborough is administered as a teaching program, once you get much beyond the fifth grade level, travel teams will focus much more on skill refinement as opposed to skill introductions. At the lower age levels, coaches are not as concerned during the try-out period that players are familiar with all facets of basketball. However, as the age levels progress, players need to be able to understand and at least have a general familiarity with the rules and strategies of playing on a basketball team, both offensively and defensively, before they try-out.|
|Attitude: This is very important in any activity, not just basketball, and encompasses everything from the player’s availability during the winter season to how hard s/he hustles during try-outs to overall general personality.|
How many players will be selected for a team?
Again, we remind parents and potential players that travel teams are selective and that not all players who try-out will be chosen for a roster. Although the final roster size will vary from team to team, our teams have historically carried between 10-14 players, with 11 or 12 player rosters being the average within our program. Depending on overall talent, program resources, and interest, we will support one to three teams at each age level.
Two of the most common questions we face each fall are:
|Why don’t we take more kids that try-out?||Why are there more boys teams than girls?|
|Acton-Boxborough supports more teams per age group than any other program in CMYBL. Some towns that play in CMYBL have three times the population of Acton and Boxborough yet only have one team at each division, and in some cases, no team at all in some divisions. While we are a teaching program, playing strategically in order to end up with a winning score is a main goal of a competitive team. Therefore, our mission is to balance the number of players we accept on A-B teams with a strong end-of-season record that will best prepare these kids for high school basketball.||Although the trend has certainly started to swing in recent years, basketball is still a sport that is more popular among boys than girls with many more boys trying out than girls. We look at the percentage of kids that try out and are selected for a team as the most appropriate way of comparing the two sexes. Last season, 72% of girls and 76% of boys that registered to try-out were selected for an Acton-Boxborough team.|
What is the appropriate parental role during try-outs?
Outside of supporting your child and not overwhelming him/her with excessive advice, we strongly recommend that parents take a “back seat” during the try-out weekend. Kids will generally find it to be more stressful if their parents sit in the gym during try-outs observing their play and therefore, parents may want to consider just dropping their child off at the gym. If you do choose to observe a portion of try-outs, we insist that you do not interfere in any way. This rule is especially true with regard to interaction with coaches during try-outs. During try-out weekend, parents should not attempt to solicit feedback from coaches about how their child is doing, ask how many players the coach is planning on keeping, or use any variation of the line “my child just wants to make the team and isn’t worried about playing time.” Also, if you have a son and he is trying out for a division with two teams, please do not pre-request that if selected, your son play for one coach over another.
Can my child play indoor soccer, hockey, etc. in addition to travel team basketball this winter?
The vast majority of kids who play travel team basketball are basketball players only in the winter. However, a few families are able to make it work with two sports.
If you are considering letting your child play two sports this winter, keep in mind that it could be very difficult to go to all the practices and games and still have time left over for free time, family time, schoolwork, etc. Travel team basketball practice schedules vary from team to team and a coach cannot cater an entire team’s practice schedule around one player who has another activity three evenings a week. So, if you know your son or daughter is going to have indoor soccer practice a couple of evenings each week, an ice hockey game every Sunday afternoon, etc. this winter, you will probably not be able to play travel team basketball as well.
Additionally, some coaches may specifically choose to select players who are going to dedicate themselves to travel team basketball this winter over players who are trying to balance basketball with another scheduled activity. Because this is a select team activity, certain coaches may take a personal philosophy that it is not right to not select a player who is going to dedicate their time to basketball only (and as a result of not being selected, would not be playing any sports this winter) over another player who is going to try to balance travel team basketball with another sport at the same time.
If your son or daughter is selected for a travel team and you find out later that the schedule conflicts heavily with other activities you have planned this winter, coaches have the right to dismiss your son or daughter from participation after they have been selected and to replace your son or daughter with someone who was not selected for the team and can dedicate him/herself to travel team basketball this winter.
|Within reason, players are expected to attend the duration of all scheduled practices. Coaches have specifically asked that we mention this means arriving at practice on time and remaining there until it is scheduled to be over.The travel team practice schedule generally includes two or three practices per week beginning with once the teams are made and continuing through December and then one or two practices per week in January and February. Our season ends after the first weekend in March.During the October Pre-Season Camp, players selected for a team will have one or two sessions a week.In November and December, weeknight practices will be scheduled sometime between 5-9pm and will generally last one to two hours. Expect two weeknight practices a week for these two months. Additionally, teams will practice once on a weekend. Your one weekend practice will last for up to two hours and could be scheduled for any block of time between 7:30am-9:00pm on Saturday or Sunday (although we practice more often on Saturday than Sunday).Because the Community Education basketball league begins in January, our practice schedule must be redone for January and February. For the most part, the weeknight schedule will be reduced to one weeknight practice per team for one hour. Be advised that this time block could very well be 8:00-9:00pm, which is frequently the only available slot after the Community Education teams are done with the gyms. Additionally, on weekends, teams will practice once for up to 90 minutes. Weekend practices during these two months will be held on Saturday afternoons and evenings, after the Community Education games are played. Please note: Coaches will be given the option to practice before Community Education basketball on Saturday mornings (6:15-7:45am). Very few coaches ever choose to practice during the early slot however be advised that it is possible your team will practice before 7:00am on Saturdays in January and February.Coaches have final say on their practice schedules. Some coaches may choose not to practice some weeks while others will choose to practice three times in a week. It’s up to them. Also, it is not uncommon at all for coaches to trade practice times, especially when it comes to the weekend schedule. We ask that you understand that with the limited gym time in Acton, the need for flexibility will sometimes compromise the convenience of your schedule this winter, especially with Saturday practice schedules. We ask that you please read through this section again if it did not all sink in. Each season we receive complaints from families who claim they were not expecting three practices a week, Saturday evening practice slots, practices on school nights, practices at 6:30am on Saturday mornings, etc.|
|Most Acton-Boxborough teams play in the Central Massachusetts Basketball League. Josh Hammer, one of the directors of the Acton-Boxborough program, is a Commissioner in this league. Other towns that play in this league include Leominster, Nashoba, Hudson, Ayer-Shirley, and Fitchburg, Maynard, and Groton among others. With exception to Quabbin (Barre) and Athol, all towns are within about a 45 minute drive of Acton with the majority less than 30 minutes away. League games are played on Sunday afternoons, with a start time between 12:00-5:00, depending on the individual town’s gym availability. A league game will be scheduled every Sunday from mid/late-November until late-February, with the four Sundays during vacation weeks (December 23 & 30; February 17 & 24) excluded from the schedule. Note, there will be a league game during the long Martin Luther King Day weekend. Playoffs are typically during the first weekend of March however may be moved around by one week depending on weather cancellations or other extenuating circumstances. Playoffs are the only weekend and there could be Saturday games during that weekend.A-B teams can expect 30-50% of their games to be played at home in Acton with the remainder of their games played at either the opponents gym or in occasional cases, at a neutral site. Neutral sites are sometimes utilized when the two opponents scheduled to play each other are on opposite sides of the map (e.g. if there is gym time available, a Concord versus Rutland game could be played in Shrewsbury if neither team has an available gym that week). With exception to the play-off schedule, the entire league schedule for the season will be published about 10 days before the regular season begins.Additionally, most teams choose to participate in tournaments and non-league games. Participation in these events is left to the discretion of coaches.|
|For the past seventeen years, Acton-Boxborough has hosted a large vacation week basketball tournament during February vacation week. Last year, the tournament hosted 66 teams from Massachusetts were one of the largest (if not the largest) vacation week tournaments in Massachusetts. In addition to being the highlight of the season for our program, this tournament is our only fundraiser with much of the proceeds being used to keep participation costs for your son or daughter down.The dates of the 2015 tournament are not official yet however it has always been during the second half of February vacation week, with games starting on Wednesday or Thursday and concluding on Sunday. Weekday games are in the afternoon and evening; weekend games run from morning through evening. We respectfully ask that if your son or daughter is selected for a travel basketball team this winter that you plan on being in town for our tournament in February. When our coaches select someone for a team, they are expecting that the player will be in town for the Acton-Boxborough tournament during February vacation week.Though coaches may choose to participate in other tournaments or schedule scrimmages on their own accord, Acton-Boxborough Travel Basketball will sponsor no scheduled events (including practices) during Christmas vacation week or during the first half of February vacation week. Please do your best to schedule the ski trips, family vacations to Florida, etc. during those periods. Barring an unmovable event that has long been on your schedule, we ask that you please be in town for the February tournament during the second half of vacation week.|
As we hope the above information clearly defines, playing travel team basketball is a large (but also fun) commitment during the winter season. If you are new to this program, we encourage you to chat with other Acton-Boxborough families (we had 158 players last season) who can give you a first hand account of what to expect in terms of a time commitment. Although we don’t have any written policy on players participating in more than one activity during the season, you will find that the vast majority of travel team players do not participate in any other highly regimented extracurricular activities during the winter season and if it came down to a “deal breaker,” coaches may choose a player who is dedicating him/herself to basketball over a player that is going to try to balance a busy travel team schedule with indoor soccer, hockey, etc.
If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may e-mail any of us individually using the format email@example.com or you may send an e-mail that gets copied to the entire board with the address board(at)abbasketball.com.