Basketball expands onto local stage

Basketball+expands+onto+local+stage

The American School in London includes two key geographical aspects: “American” and “London.” From an athletic perspective, the “London” component of the name has lacked in comparison to the “American” one in previous years. This year however, with both the JV boys and JV girls basketball teams joining the London Basketball Association (LBA) Westminster High School League and the varsity boys basketball team joining the LBA College League, the presence of ASL athletics within London is expanding.

Teams in the College League are Sixth Form schools, where students range from ages 16-18. The Westminster High School League allows any team within the borough of Westminster to compete.

When ASL hosted Quintin Kynaston Community Academy (QK), Paddington Academy and King Solomon Academy, among others, JV girls player Talia Vasaturo-Kolodner (’19) found that the Westminster teams exhibited a wide variety of playing styles. “We grow as players because we learn not everyone’s going to [play] like Cobham or Hillingdon,” she said.

The proximity and diverse competition in these leagues enticed Athletics Director John Farmer to join the leagues. “I love that we now know that there are teams five minutes away from here who are not only going to give [us] a good game, but could potentially beat [us],” he said.

Fierce competition may result in rivalry, but LBA team leader Tony Lazare – who coached ASL high school boys basketball teams for five seasons – believes the interactions in sport will translate to existential benefits. “They’re going to be enemies on the court, but friends off the court… They’re going to have those connections because basketball is a community in itself,” he said.

Farmer believes the addition of competition will only help. “Basketball is a game where you should play a couple games a week… three practices and two games is a great week for basketball and [our teams] will have a lot of weeks like that,” he said.

Last season, when Lazare coached the JJV team, he introduced Farmer to Westminster Sports Unit’s Development Officer Angela Emanuel at a Westminster High School League Tournament. Although ASL has been in Westminster since the borough’s inception in 1965, it wasn’t until the collaboration of Farmer, Lazare and Emanuel that ASL joined the league.

Throughout the past summer, months of communication among the three was vital to fit ASL into the leagues and avoid logistical difficulties with scheduling. Little flexibility is available for the winter season start time due to the structure of ISSTs.

As the facilities at ASL surpass those of other schools, Lazare finds the school ideal to host tournaments. Likewise, Farmer hopes to continue hosting tournaments like the ones on December 2 and 3.

Participating in local tournaments against players with a variety of backgrounds extends beyond the games for Vasaturo-Kolodner. “We’re a very lucky school, but a lot of other schools don’t have what we have, so you get to see how other people – just through basketball – live their lives,” she said.