Heat Haze team's J.D. Ricapito, center, drives to the basket as Team Tosco players Yeboa Cobbold and Jake Engle look to block him during the attempt the first night of playoffs Sunday night.
For the past 23 years, the Upper Perkiomen Summer Basketball League has been providing a recreational opportunity to the community and surrounding areas from the end of May through the middle of August.
While founded by local basketball player, Phil Nichols, much of the success of the summer league has recently been attributed to Dana Hipszer, who has been playing an active role in the program since 2003. His son, Tim, has also been contributing by supervising league play and establishing both a Facebook and Twitter presence for the organization. However, both individuals claim that overall it is a group effort which has allowed the program to expand.
Currently consisting of 12 teams, this past summer has been one of the best seasons for the league. The majority of the active teams are returning from last year.
“In years past we’ve had as many as 22 teams, but because of the smaller numbers, the level of competition has gotten that much better. You can expect a good game every time,” commented Dana Hipszer.
Ranging from ages 15-55, the league’s players participate in games held on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays at the outdoor courts located at the Upper Perkiomen High School. Members of the the organization now consider it to be more competitively balanced with no underlying issues.
“It’s got a wide variety of play. You have players that are fundamentally sound,” stated league participant Drew Weis.
Players this year commute from areas such as Souderton, Quakerton, and Allentown. Also, many athletes are attending college at schools including Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg University, Philadelphia University and Albright College.
“We just try to provide a fun opportunity for a variety of local basketball players. We get a mix of many different skill levels, you don’t have to be an NBA player to join,” said Tim Hipszer.
Costing $200 per team to play, all proceeds of the organization go towards improvements of the outdoor courts such as the lights, hoops and paths. Other than the fee to play, the summer league relies on what Dana Hipszer refers to as a “shoestring budget,” remaining one of the cheapest recreational sports in the valley.
“I play in the league to stay in shape, and for the fans,” joked Tommy Paul, member of the Wolfpack.
Within the next five years the league foresees continued growth and improvement.
“The more players that come from playing in the PAC-10 that join will lead to the league becoming much more competitive,” explained player Alex Kriebel.
The league’s semifinal matchups will be held this Sunday at 8 p.m., and the championship game will take place Monday, also at 8 p.m. For more information regarding how to sign up to be a part of next year’s summer league, check out the organization's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UPsummerleague.