Students hoop in Jelleff rec league

Alex Cirino and Margaret Heffernan

The Jelleff Basketball League is more than just a weekend recreational program, it is an influential and welcoming basketball community. Through Jelleff, teams meet up once a week and participate in an eight-game season against other teams within the program. The league, which has been around since 1982, features over 710 players as old as 12th grade with teams made up of friends who compete for the love of the game.

“It definitely brings a lot of people in the Wilson community together,” said senior Noah Gold, who has been a part of the league since first grade. “It’s a common thing that everybody can talk about.” There are currently nine Wilson based teams across the league’s oldest age groups: underclassmen and upperclassmen. Many of these teams have been together since the elementary school level, with their experience shaped by friendly competition with and against friends “Everyone knows what jelleff is and everyone that likes basketball even a little bit is in the league or somewhat involved,” Gold said. 

Gold’s teammate, senior Amartya Eswaran-King, has made many new friends from his years in the league. “It has allowed me and other people to interact with kids that you wouldn’t necessarily interact with and just play basketball and enjoy it,” said Eswaran-King. Since fifth grade, Eswaran-King has met many players from college basketball commits to beginner level players, all of whom he has become friends with through the Jelleff league. 

Gold and Eswaran-King’s team, The Blizzards, separated with another Wilson senior team, Team Takeover. Both believe that the competition between friend groups adds to the experience. “It’s fun competing against them… and beating them,” Eswaran-King said. Jellef basketball provides a competitive environment while creating a greater D.C. youth basketball community. 

The other reason Gold enjoys playing Jelleff? “I’m a walking bucket.”