LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Saturday morning panther gym was set for a day filled withbasketball.
"We have a total of300 kids that will be participating in our opening ceremony," said RubenEsteves, Athletic Coordinator, City of Lufkin."
32 teams took the floor during the Lufkin Little Dribblers openingceremony, boys and girls from ages five to 14 geared up for six weeks of basketball.
Athletic Coordinator for the city Ruben Esteves says the programcontinues to grow each year, last year there were 230 players this year they'veincreased by 70.
"Our kids haveextended as far as age group and number of the amount of teams we have for thecity," said Esteves.
President of the league Charles Bennett said for coaches andplayers practices and games are about more than just basketball.
"Sports are very importantin a kid's life and the faster they get into sports they learn discipline, theylearn leadership, they learn teamwork, they learn skills that will help themlater in life," said Bennett.
Throughout the history of the program many of the playerscontinue throughout their high school careers today varsity athletes gave theseyoung players a few words of encouragement.
"We bring in formerplayers , players on the varsity level that come up through our league so thekids can see that with hard work they can also be on varsity and also succeedin their goals," said Bennett.
And officials hope their example will help each player toreach their full potential on and off the court.
Each team practices twice a week and play games on Saturday.
The season will end the first week ofFebruary.