Knox County Kids May Be Turned Away From League

Knoxville (WVLT) – Children could be turned away from playing in Knox County’s Park & Recreation basketball league this winter because there isn’t enough gym space.

With no facilities of their own, the Knox County Youth Basketball League program is having a competition "off the gym floor,” over who gets to use the gyms.

“Our program is rapidly growing with 3,000 basketball players and cheerleaders, but there is not enough gym space,” said Jeff Mayberry from Parks & Recreation. “Parks & Rec has to cut out their 6 year old co-ed basketball program.”

A problem that the department believes is unfair to county children.

"It's a sad day when students who want to participate don't get to play where they want to participate, Mayberry said."

The problem for Parks & Rec isn’t that they have to compete with the middle and high school athletes for space.

Instead, basketball commissioner Jeff Beck said it is the Smokey Mountain Junior’s volleyball program that beat them out.

For example, the non-profit traveling volleyball team put in their facility request application for Cedar Bluff Middle School’s gym back in July and when it was approved, it limited Park & Rec league use to only 3 days a week.

"I want to make sure mine is in at the same time so I’m considered," said Carmen Foster of the Smokey Mountain Juniors Volleyball program.

So what is the answer to more gym space?

"Build more gyms or deny someone the use," said Walter Mencer, the assistant to the superintendent of Knox County schools.

"My biggest dream is to have my own space," said Foster.

Park & Rec has their own idea in mind.

"Joint relationships with folks of when we use those facilities," Mayberry said.

For the meantime, Park & Rec will have to limit the number of athletes who participate in their program while they share the gym floors with other sports clubs.

According to Mayberry, they are hopefully that they will be able to use the gym at Hardin Valley Academy when it opens next August.

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