The New York City Lutheran League’s basketball program has been around for more than 50 years and features schools that span across four out of the city’s five boroughs. The Lutheran Schools Association product has seven schools that participate in an ultra-competitive schedule that features sixth- through eighth-graders.
Nicholas Singh is in his first year as commissioner of the basketball league and has been a Queens kid his whole life. He was baptized at Redeemer Lutheran Church of Bayside, attended Bayside High School and received his master’s degree from Queens College.
He has now gone full circle, teaching as well as coaching basketball at the Lutheran School of Flushing-Bayside, which is owned by the church he has went to since he was a child.
“I lived in Bayside my whole life. The church has been there for 95 years. I’m not there for the money,” said Singh.
Singh played basketball at Bayside High School and has a deep love for sports. For him, coaching and running the NYCLL is just the beginning. His dream job would be to return to his alma mater as a basketball coach.
For now he is just getting ready for the upcoming season that begins Jan. 5. His preparations not only include getting a team ready to play, but putting together an entire league.
The work can sometimes be tedious. Rosters have to be set, players have to be checked to see if they are eligible, referees have to be assigned to games, but despite all the work, it is the kids who benefit at the end of the day.
Singh usually gets around 20 kids from the junior high level that are interested in playing for his team, of which he will take six and field a team of reserve layers. He leaves no doubt about it: Winning is important to him. After capturing the 2009 New York City championship, he is looking for the most talented players.
“If you want to have fun, go play in your backyard or go play in the street because it is a very competitive league,” said Singh.
He admits that parents can get out of hand when the blood starts to get pumping on the court. Singh has had even to call the police to quell some of the more nasty spectators.
Noisy parents seem to be the least of his problems at the moment. Like all other businesses, Lutheran schools have been hurt by the economy from drawbacks in enrollment. Twenty schools used to participate in the basketball league and now there are fewer than 10.
Each school privately funds its own team and Singh admits that sports programs are the first to go, that is if there are even enough students to participate in the first place. He has a few ideas to improve the scope of competition.
“This year we started to reach out to Catholic schools. We want to open the league to become more than just Lutheran,” said Singh.
Besides an increased number of schools for the league, the commissioner has one specific goal for the upcoming season: for every game to be close with no blowouts.
©2012 Community News Group
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