Franklin Heat Traveling Basketball League Kicks Off Its Season With Pizza Party

Franklin Heat

Attendees at the Franklin Heat team meeting.

Parents and players in the Franklin Youth Basketball program got to know each other Dec. 3 at a pre-season “meet-and-greet” pizza party held at the Eternal Life Christian Center, Franklin Boulevard, Somerset.

The event was designed to show the participants that the league is “more than just the team your kid is on,” said Ron Jordan, the league’s founder.

There are about 55 players in grades 4 through 7 signed up to play, Jordan said. The league – known as the Franklin Heat – has one team in each of the 4th, 5th and 6th grades, and two teams in the 7th grade, he said.

There’s no 8th grade team, Jordan said, because he did not want to interfere with the Franklin Middle School basketball program.

Jordan said the idea to start the league came to him about eight years ago, when he was invited by a friend too watch the friend’s son play a game in a traveling youth basketball league in East Brunswick.

“I said this is ridiculous, Franklin Township doesn’t have a league like this,” Jordan said.

Jordan said he approached some fathers whose sons played in the township recreational basketball league and talked to them about starting a traveling league in the township.

The Heat was founded the next year, and Jordan’s then-5-year-old son was among the first to play.

Township boys find themselves playing against teams from towns including East Brunswick, South Brunswick, Milltown and some Hunterdon County towns, he said.

The teams generally play between 20 and 5 games from December to the end of February, Jordan said.

Over the past eight years, Jordan said, the league has served as a kind of “minor league” for the Franklin High School basketball team.

“The high school has been very supportive,” he said. “Some of our kids actually practice at the high school after the high school kids are done.”

The younger players usually practice at Sampson G. Smith School, he said.

“Our goal is to get the guys ready to play high school ball,” Jordan said.

The league gets no funding from the township, everything is paid for by players’ parents and league fundraising efforts, Jordan said.

“We get a lot of support from the parents,” he said.

Nathaniel Wyatt, a 7th grade point guard, said he’s been playing in the league for the last three years.

Wyatt said he returns to the league because it “improves my skills so I play better.”

His goals for this year – his last – Wyatt said, are “to meet new friends and improving to be a better player.”

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