The return of Friday Night Basketball

Waynesboro Y executive director Jeff Fife hoped to get 35-40 kids out to the Y on Friday nights at the start of Friday Night Basketball in 2008.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” said Fife, getting ready for the relaunch of Friday Night Basketball this coming Friday night, Oct. 1, from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Friday Night Basketball is a regular feature on the schedule at the Y in the fall, winter and spring months, and usually brings in around 135 teens.

The venture is a partnership involving the Y and several community organizations, including the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, which provides grant funding toward staff time, and the Waynesboro Police Department, which provides manpower for security.

“It’s important that this is a safe place to be on Friday nights,” said Fife, who delivers the message to kids that “whatever difficulties you have on the street, when you come to the Y, leave them on the street.”

“Parents and kids know this is a safe place to come,” Fife said, noting the police presence.

A group of adult volunteers helps keep the atmosphere civil.

“We have a group that comes in and balls with the kids, and they help keep whatever difficulties that might arise at a minimum,” Fife said.

Additional adult volunteers are welcome. As are sponsors for the free pizza provided to the teens after 10 p.m. The nightly tab comes in around $75, “and we can use whatever help we can get there,” Fife said.

Quick hits

– The tipoff to Friday Night Basketball this coming Friday night will include a tribute to Trevor Munio, an 19-year-old Y staff member who died in an accident in New York over the summer. The Y will take up a collection Friday night to help pay outstanding funeral expenses for Munio, a Friday Night Basketball regular.

“Trevor was a Y rat who was just always here,” Fife said.

– This week’s Friday Night Basketball will also mark the debut of a new outreach program aimed at getting teens to join the Y. The Augusta Health Foundation will be sponsoring scholarships for new teen members. A volunteer will be on hand on Friday nights to take teens on tours of the Nautilus facility.

“We’d love to be able to spin off a health and wellness program for our teen population from Friday Night Basketball. With the obesity crisis that we are experiencing with our young population, it’s crucial that we get more and more teens who come in here maybe just on Friday nights to come back several nights a week,” Fife said.

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