Toms River basketball players can dream, believe and achieve at the Baker League Basketball Arena
By Ciji Siddons
Pick-up basketball games are a time honored tradition among people all over the world. The sport transcends cities, states, and countries, yet there is nothing more American than a couple of guys shooting some hoops. This exact scenario would take place at 6 am every Friday morning at a local fitness center. As the momentum and the intensity of the games developed, the number of players wanting to solidify their spot on the court also grew. Very quickly, a handful became 30, and 30 became a league. That league, known today around town, is The Baker League.
What started out as a game among friends has become what the local community is touting as the area’s premier organization for basketball of all ages. Given the sports-obsessed reputation of Ocean County and the rapidly growing interest in the organization, it soon became necessary that The Baker League establish their own complex, The Baker League Basketball Arena. The opening of the facility in December 2011 presented many opportunities for the community that had been previously unaddressed. “Dream, Believe, Achieve” has become the cornerstone for not only their current success, but also the backbone of their future endeavors.
The sports facility, located at 1 South Main Street in South Toms River, is now the home to various competitive youth leagues, one being the very popular Toms River United AAU program. Cliff Baker, CEO of The Baker League, explains that “Instilling character traits such as hard work and dedication in children today will inevitably lead to a better tomorrow. Youth sports provide an outlet for the younger generation to explore their dreams. The possibilities that present themselves to those that learn what teamwork and commitment entail will be endless as they navigate through their future.” With a staff full of coaches, trainers, and nutritionists, there is absolutely no telling the level of greatness this program can achieve.
The Baker League remains incredibly devoted to their original reason for existence and the men who made this dream a reality. The adult league boasts three divisions. The Premier Division is considered the best of the best. Age has proven to be only a number among this budding group of men. Their collegiate backgrounds and accolades span universities across the country and their undying love for the sport remains evident with each passing game. There is also the Primetime Under 30 Division as well as the Primetime Over 30 Division. Regardless of where a player is placed, the level of intensity in their respective games is unmatched. The 2012 season will reintroduce the Women’s division, which, if history is an indicator, will be a competitive powerhouse featuring the best talent that the community has to offer.
Ocean County and its reputation for quality, passionate athletics has led to the introduction of the Toms River Shooters. The Shooters were recruited from the pool of athletes associated with The Baker League and have come together to form the area’s first team in the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League. All Shooter home games will be taking place at The Baker League Basketball Arena. February 5th at 1 PM marks the team’s first home game. While the festivities scheduled for the day are still in the beginning stages, spectators can expect giveaways and prizes to go along with an afternoon jam packed with untouchable basketball brilliance. Baker states, “This is something that was beyond even my wildest dreams. Being able to provide the community with this kind of spectacular showing of basketball is the culmination of the hard work by so many individuals over the years. It really, once again, instills our motto, Dream, Believe, Achieve.”
The Baker League is also incredibly excited to incorporate another construct into their already flourishing enterprise. Tara Romano is bringing her immense knowledge and background in physical education to provide the very best that group fitness has to offer. With over ten years working in the field, she has mastered the art of motivation through the arsenal of classes that she teaches daily. Those attending group exercise at The Baker League can rest assured that her approach will satisfy individuals on any level of the fitness spectrum. Zumba and choreographed dance, bootcamp, and interval training are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what she plans to introduce in early 2012. Because The Baker League truly believes that the habits formed as children will help to define one’s path through life, Romano will offer kids’ classes and birthday parties for those as young as four years old. Her passion for assisting others in reaching their personal goals is nothing short of palpable. Her proven ability to motivate and inspire is evidenced by her massive following as well as the stellar reputation that she has earned throughout her influential career.
This is truly only the beginning. The Baker League is providing opportunities for both local athletes and area businesses. As their success becomes even more prevalent, there is no telling what is to come as they embark on enhancing the talent of the local basketball community while simultaneously providing a better future for all of those on this journey. For more information, visit their website at www.thebakerleague.com.