In elementary school, when Evyn Stone started playing basketball, it seemed as if she did the same thing on every possession: Dribble to the wing, pull up for a jumper and drill the shot.
Her mother, Holly Stone, was amazed.
“I said, ‘How do you do that?’” the mom recalled. “‘You’re so little.’”
As Evyn Stone grew and her basketball game matured, she stopped depending so heavily on her wing jumper, adding a driving attack, a three-point shot and even, once she started playing against Amateur Athletic Union opponents, an aggressive defensive game.
Now 15, tall and long, she has grown into a dynamic scorer for her AAU team, Kyniska, and the varsity squad at The Shipley School. The Villanova resident loves basketball, lives for it, always wants to play it.
Now, she’s attempting to learn some different skills to add to her game: organizing a girls basketball league at the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood.
The teen is hoping to start her league at the end of September or the beginning of October.
After months of recruitment, she said she has 15-20 committed players between grades eight and 12 — enough for about two-and-a-half teams — but she’s trying to find enough girls to fill four teams of seven players each. The recreational league will feature only Sunday games, with no practices. There will be a $75 cost per player, the money being used to pay for referees.
“It’s a low-competitive but social and fun league,” Stone said.
The high school sophomore came up with the idea after seeing Instagram pictures of her cousin, Hunter Stein, 16, playing in the boys J-Ball league in previous seasons. It occurred to Stone that, if the boys had a fun Sunday league, the girls should have one, too.
During lockdown in the spring of 2020, Stone and her mom brought the idea to JCC officials. They loved it, but it was too hard to pull off with the pandemic raging and before a vaccine was available.
Over the summer, Alan Scher took over as CEO of the JCC and also loved Stone’s pitch.
“This is what gets me most excited and inspired about doing this work,” he said. “Community centers working with community members to build programming.”
For Stone, there is much building still to do.
Her ultimate goal is to attract between 40 and 50 girls, though that may not be feasible this year. At the very least, she wants about 8-10 more players to make 28: four teams, seven players on each roster. That way, every squad will have two bench players and the girls can give each other breaks.
Stone and her mom are busy sending emails to local coaches and players. The commissioner is also posting the registration link on her Instagram and social media accounts.
Even if she doesn’t get to 28 players, Stone plans on starting the league about a month before Halloween, and it will run until mid-December/winter break.
Holly Stone said girls will be able to join after the start of the season. And she believes they will.
“People will join once they see it’s fun,” she said.
Evyn Stone’s attempt to start a girls J-Ball league won’t be her only shot; once the first game tips off, she wants to craft it into a communal institution.
This fall and in coming years, she hopes to reach that 40-50 player range, order jerseys, organize scorekeepers, open a concession stand for league revenue and even keep a J-Ball Instagram account.
“It takes a lot of hard work to make this happen,” her mother said.
Stone’s older brother Logan is now a student at Penn State University. But a few years ago, he was a high school student who had never heard about the new boys J-Ball league at the JCC. Now, though, that league has grown to the point of having a waiting list.
Evyn Stone thinks her own J-Ball operation can emulate that growth.
“This could be something really big,” Evyn Stone said.
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