Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Women Take the Court

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Women Take the Court

Article excerpt

RINGWOOD -- Ask just about any athlete and they'll tell you there's a special type of longing, however fleeting, that comes from watching others play the sport you love.

Such was the case last summer when sisters Jamie Nicholls Carbone and Shelly Nicholls Fleming were supporting the local men's league from their seats on the grassy perimeter of the Cupsaw Lake basketball court.

"Why don't we have a women's league?" the sisters, both of whom played Division I basketball on scholarship after graduating from Lakeland Regional High School in 1995 and '98, respectively, remember saying. "Why are the men the only ones who are allowed to play?"

Rather than remaining wistful, the pair resolved to start a league of their own. And on Tuesday night, as two women leaped skyward to vie for the tipoff, the borough's first-ever women's basketball league was born.

The league's inaugural game pitted the Spoilers against the Defenders, and a casual observer would have been forgiven for thinking this was the way things have always been. Music from Justin Bieber and Beyonce blasted through a pair of speakers stationed on the sideline as the players hustled up and down the court. Youngsters explored a nearby playground while adult supporters lounged nearby.

But getting the league started wasn't easy. The first pickup game the sisters hosted last summer, which they wanted to use to gauge interest in a women's league, drew only six participants. Carbone said she was "a little discouraged but hopeful at the same time."

With the help of the borough's recreation department, the sisters continued to host once-a-week pickup games in local gyms.

"Each week more and more women kept coming out to play," Carbone said. "It was kind of cool."

In spring, when the sisters opened registration for the new league, 26 women signed up, enough to field four teams that will compete until September. …

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