Nearly 20 years after the first tipoff, the Red Deer Women’s Basketball League continues to grow.
More than 100 women from across Central Alberta fill up 16 teams in the league. Teams play every Monday night at schools in Red Deer, Lacombe, Blackfalds and Innisfail.
Carissa Slade, league president, has been a player in the league for six years.
Originally from Ponoka, the 32-year-old travelled around the world after graduating from school before settling in Red Deer about six years ago.
“I played pickup ball in some of the countries I was in. When I came back to Alberta my friend who played in the league invited me to come,” she said.
Slade also played basketball in high school as well.
Most women in the league have played high school basketball and some have played in university or college. A few players had never played the sport before joining the league.
“We have quite a wide range,” she said. “We have quite a few teams that are established and have been playing for a number of years.”
“A lot of us stepped away from the court to start a career or a family, but now we have a chance to step away from all that for a second and do something we really enjoy,” said Slade.
The league, which is for women 18 years old and up, was founded in 2000, but started growing around 2005, said Slade.
“We’re getting more teams added to the league each year which is really awesome to see,” she said.
Slade said she hopes the league continues to grow.
“We’re always looking for more players. We are seeing that as women are going through different stages of their lives, some are stepping away, so we always welcome fresh players.
“We want to keep expanding the league. We really think it’s a great thing for women to come out and do. We’re giving them that one night a week where they can come out and do something fun and active with other women,” said Slade.
Slade said the league has a Facebook group, meant to create a stronger bond between opposing teams.
“The relationship I’ve built with my team has been amazing and we want to create that same relationship between all players,” she said.
More information on the league, including how to join, can be found at www.reddeerwomensbasketball.ca.