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City caps basketball sign-ups due to growth
Basketball players, from left, Paige Crossman, Brooke Pirkle and Annie Prendergast practice with their rec league team Friday at Dobbs Creek Recreation Center. As enrollment numbers swell, Cumming is capping program registration starting in the fall. - photo by Autumn McBride


Some of the 1,300 children who play basketball through the city of Cumming Recreation and Parks Department may have to find a different option next season, or at least plan on registering early.

Citing the huge increase in players from 2009-10 to 2010-11, Athletic Coordinator Matt Payne alerted parents in a recent letter that next season will be limited to a specific number of players.

According to the letter, participation grew during that span from “around 1,150” making up 112 teams, to “just over 1,300 players” making up 138 teams.

All Cumming teams practice and play games at the Dobbs Creek Recreation Center, located on Hwy. 9 North, across from the Forsyth County Board of Education Office.

The nine-year-old facility features six basketball courts.

Payne noted that the high numbers of participants has put a strain on the program, with some games being scheduled as late at 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Coaches often are unable to secure requested practice times.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Little said it’s the first time in the program’s 26 years that a cap has been required.

“We really hate it,” Little said. “But we looked at all the growth, and in order to keep a quality program, this is what we have to do.”

Payne added that the action is proactive in order to prevent “a nightmare situation.”

“Our fear is that we might have 1,600 or 1,700 kids show up, without saying in advance that we’re limiting the numbers, and that would be a terrible situation,” Payne said. “So, we’re taking this step to prevent that.”

Little added that capping enrollment is a normal practice.

“You can probably count on one hand the number of our programs that don’t have a cap,” he said. “I’d say 95 percent of them already do.”

Specific numbers haven’t been set, but Payne said attempts will be made to allow as many children as possible to play.

He said if one division fills up, any additional players will be placed in another division until all are full. At that point, they would go on a waiting list.

Little and Payne said they wanted to notify families of the change early on so they would make plans to register early for next season.

“We wanted to hit everyone now, 10 months in advance,” Payne said. “We’ll come back later and remind them again.”

Registration for the 2011-12 season is tentatively set for Oct. 17-28 for ages 7-12 and Oct. 14-Nov. 4 for older age groups.

When Dobbs Creek Recreation Center was built, Little said, he thought there would never be enough players to maximize the space.

“But with so much growth [across Forsyth County], that’s just where we are now,” he said.

Help may be on the way. Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department is scheduled to open two new recreation centers by early 2012.

One will be housed at Fowler Park, near Hwy. 9 and Castleberry Road, and the Buice center will be built on at Nichols and Old Atlanta roads. Both are in south Forsyth.

At least one Cumming basketball parent said she may just shift her sons’ basketball registrations to one of the new county centers.

“When the [county] rec centers open, we’ll probably want to play there,” Kirsten Stevens said.

The south Forsyth resident said the new centers would be more convenient for her family.

“Right now, it’s a 30-minute drive to [Dobbs],” she said.

She said it seems both recreation departments help each other to allow all students the chance to participate in various programs.

“What the city can’t provide, the county provides, and what the county can’t provide, the city provides,” she said.

Little said the two entities do have “a wonderful working relationship.”

“We don’t compete with each other, we work together to make sure everyone who wants to participate can,” he said.