As summer draws to a close, so does one of our favorite summer events – the Above the Rim basketball league. When you walk into the gym for these games, not only do you feel the energy of talented competition, but there is a sense of community and family coming together that is unquestionably felt through crowd and players alike. As the league came to a close, we asked a few of the players to share what inspired them this year.

After playing in the high school league and winning the championship with his San Mateo team, Sequoia High School student Myles Nunez says that one of his favorite parts of the league is the team spirit that is promoted throughout the entire season. “If one person wins,” he explains, “everyone wins.” He notices that because of this inclusive, team-building environment, everybody gets better, which makes the competition even better as well.

His teammate, KJ Lee of Bellarmine High School, agrees that this mutually supportive atmosphere makes the game all that much better to play. He sees a difference from other leagues in that players don’t just get support from their teammates or the crowd, but even from other teams in the league. Opposing teams aren’t out to get each other, but rather encourage each other to be better through friendly competition. He describes the league as having “a lighter attitude, but with the same game everyone loves.”

As third-year champions of the adult league, San Francisco teammates Michael Smith and Winston Demmin accredit their success to the close, family feel they get from being around their teammates. Both Winston and Michael have been with the team for the last three years, and most of the team has been consistent throughout, which is not common in other leagues. “It gives me a rush [to be here],” Winston remarks. “It feels like home.” After playing in more professional and competitive leagues, Winston especially sees the difference, preferring the feeling of home and family with his teammates to the more hostile and distant competition of other leagues.

As in years past, our Above the Rim League continues to develop a sense of community and bonding while providing the friendly competition that basketball always brings. We are not satisfied with simply playing a game or winning a championship. We play beyond the court. We go above the rim.

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