Games are played Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Port Orange Gymnasium.
Chris Zablo paces up and down the bench at the Port Orange Gymnasium, encouraging his band of 8, 9 and 10-year-old players to keep trying, to keep pushing. Although Zablo has been a basketball coach in the Police Athletic League for the past eight years, from the age of 10 to 17, he was a player.
He loved the league as a kid, and when he was offered the opportunity to coach in it, he couldn’t pass it up. He now coaches two teams: one in the 8-9-10 age group and another in the 11-12-13 age group.
“I’ve been here ever since,” said Zablo, who also serves as an assistant coach for Spruce Creek High School’s girls basketball team. “I like giving back my time to the community. They did it for me, so I wanted to do it for them, too.”
Bob Frazier, the PAL’s director, is in attendance at the games from when they start at 6:15 p.m. to when they finish at around 9 p.m. He’ll make an appearance at each of the gym’s three courts to see how things are going.
“It’s a lot of fun working with these kids,” he said. “We have a great time not just in basketball but in all the activities we do.”
Frazier has been involved with the league since its inception nearly 25 years ago, first serving as an assistant director. He’s been the director for the past 13 years.
This year’s basketball league has 22 teams, many of which are co-ed, with nine players each — an amount Frazier said has been “about average” over the past few seasons.
Games are played on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The season, which started on June 18, lasts 12 games.
This season provided a new opportunity for PAL basketball coach Frank Eberheart: a chance to coach is 13-year-old son, Isaiah Eberheart. It’s Isaiah’s first year playing in the league. Yet Frank Eberheart has coached in the league for about six years — before his son even started playing basketball.
“I just love being around the kids,” he said. “I love the league. It’s run the right way. The kids have fun, and that’s what I like about it. The kids just have fun and come in and compete.”
Frank Eberheart, who is also the basketball coach at Warner Christian, said his goal is to help kids who want to play basketball in high school reach that level.
“My biggest thing is teaching them how to play the game of basketball,” he said. “I want to prepare them.”