FORT STEWART, Ga. - The last basketball game of the season for age group 5-6 took place at Fort Stewart Youth Center Feb. 7. The participating teams for the 5-6 co-ed age groups included the Kings, Bulls, Jazz, Heat, Pistons, Suns, Bucks, and Spurs. The games began the first week of January, marking the first time many young athletes were placed on a team.

As the games began, the halls of the youth center filled with parents, friends, and Family Members of the young basketball players participating in their final game. While the game for this age group is non-competitive, meaning the teams do not win or lose, every game is a winning game for 6-year-old Patrick Reed.

"I like winning," said Patrick, a Kings' team member. "[I've been playing] for a long time. [We] run and play against a team." And, the team the King's played against was the Heat.

Patrick's mother, Maria Reed, a Family Member, learned about youth sports when her Family first arrived at Fort Stewart. She had her children involved in sports for the social interaction.

"The reason I like getting them involved in sports is because, it keeps them busy and the socialization with other children," she said. "It teaches them to be a team player. It worked-out incredibly well."

While some young athletes play well, others run around, and some participate in a bout of cartwheels on the court. One thing is for sure for Coach Allison Hutchinson: youth basketball is about having fun.

"It's an outlet for energy," says Hutchinson, whose son also participates in basketball. "It's about having a good time. It's not about the game.

Basketball at this age is kind of funny because they are running around back and forth, they are not paying attention to the game, and the refs don't call it as much, so they enjoy it. They have a good time."

Crystal Thatcher, whose daughter plays youth basketball as well, said she had her daughter involved in basketball because she wanted to play, and it would keep her active.

"[Basketball] gives kids the opportunity to be active," said Thatcher, who also volunteered as coach for soccer. "It's healthy. It's good socially, and it's a good outlet because [my daughter] has lots of energy."

Like Hutchinson, Reed and Thatcher were also volunteer coaches for youth sports because there simply were not enough coaches. If they wanted their children to participate in a sport, they would have to find a coach. As a result, they became the coach.

"I was a volunteer coach," said Thatcher. "They needed a coach. It was either play or not, so I volunteered. I found it rewarding to get to teach the kids how to play, and it was fun."

As the games came to a closing, coaches carried boxes filled with trophies and medals. The players surrounded the coaches to collect their goodies, which included snacks, juices, and, above all, their trophies.

With youth's basketball season finished for the year, the next youth sport includes track-and-field and soccer for March, and t-ball, baseball, and softball beginning in May. For more information on enrolling your child in youth sports, contact Parent Central Services at 912-767-2312 or visit