(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
That is what the Sikeston basketball program will be hoping for as they begin a new era of seventh grade basketball this season for the first time in the Sikeston public school system.
Varsity head coach Gregg Holifield said that nothing but good things can come out of the new seventh grade program.
"I think it's great for our basketball program," Holifield said. "We've needed it for quite awhile and I think it's only going to make us better. I really think this is a positive and a plus for our program."
Getting younger players involved in the sport and familiarizing them to a certain system that the Bulldogs want to instill is one of the main reasons for starting the program.
"My coaches do a great job of doing what we want throughout the program," said Holifield. "Adding the seventh grade program is just going to make it better. They get a year advantage and jump on things. Me and our staff are very excited about it."
The youngest that the basketball program has gone in the past is to the eighth grade level. Before, the eighth grade team has had to split up and form an A-team and a B-team, with the B-team playing against the competing school's seventh grade.
With this new program, not only will seventh graders play other seventh graders but all eighth graders will now have a chance to play against their peers, which will benefit both teams in the long run.
"Now, we can at least play seventh graders versus seventh graders which gives us a big plus I think," seventh grade head coach Derek James said. "In the past, our guys were always behind going into the eighth grade because other schools have been playing since seventh grade or maybe even younger.
"We just want to get them playing hard and get them to learn the basic fundamentals of basketball at an earlier age."
There were 60 kids that signed up for the program with 48 of them actually trying out. Knowing that so many kids are taking an interest in the program and are willing to try out for the team shows how much this program was needed and how much excitement Sikeston basketball brings forth.
"It's something that we've really wanted to get for a long time here at Sikeston," James said. "I'm extremely happy with the huge turnout we've had. I'm glad that so many young kids have taken an interest in the new program."
The first game for the newly attained seventh grade team will be on Nov. 20 at the Sikeston Middle School.