Everyone Starts Somewhere: A Snapshot of NJB Lake Forest’s Rookie League

Everyone must start somewhere in life. Skills, fundamentals, and habits are not developed overnight. They must start somewhere. Math must be taught and developed so that it can be applied in the workplace and every day life.

One must learn how to make a peanut butter sandwich, fold their laundry, and pick up their room. Before getting behind the wheel of a car by themselves, one has hours of training with an instructor in the passenger seat to help guide them into self-sufficient driver, that will be wise with the enormous responsibility they are given.

This is the mission and heart behind NJB’s Rookie League program for kids in grades Kindergarten through 2nd. They take seriously the role of developing young kids in the fundamentals of basketball who have an appreciation for the game.

One of NJB’s chapters worth noting for their efforts this year is the Lake Forest Chapter. In its first year of rebirth, the Rookie League at Lake Forest has about 22 kids in their program. A typical day begins with warm up drills that tackle different fundamentals of the game. The kids are split into groups of 4-5, so the coaches can provide greater instruction on a personal level. In large group drills, coaches are spread out and focus on a specific cluster of kids.

These are drills are done in a circuit that often include some component of passing, dribbling, shooting, and running. After the circuit, the kids are put into teams in a way that the kids of coaches can stay with their dads. For the last 30 minutes or so, the teams scrimmage each other. It is an opportunity to put into practice some of the new skills they have learned.

The entire event, would not be complete without the participation of parents in the crowd to cheer. and yes, provide snacks for the kids. Joseph Bastos, the Rookie League Director at Lake Forest, said “It really is a community effort. If it were not for participation of parents, none of this would have been possible.”

Joseph’s kids, who are now grown, also went through the NJB program. Now Joseph sees this as an amazing opportunity and privilege to give back to his community. His passion and philosophy to see kids have fun with the game of basketball and invest in their future stems from two of basketball’s great coaches: Coach Wooden and Coach Krzyzewski.

On a rare occasion, while taking his son’s team to watch Duke practice in the Southern California area, Joseph had the opportunity to ask Coach K for some advice about coaching youth. Coach K’s response was, “Fun, Fundamentals, Fun.” This philosophy is at the core of Lake Forest’s Rookie League that is seeing great success.

Great job guys!


To learn more about National Junior Basketball and its different leagues for kids in grades K-8th grade, visit www.njbl.org or call us at 888-623-0124 to be connected with your local chapter.