Utica, N.Y. - The Utica Lady Knicks announced, Wednesday, that they are forming a new women's basketball league this summer.
The league will begin play on Tuesday, June 25.
Dubbed the "Premier League," it will feature primarily women's college basketball players from the NCAA Division II and Division III levels, though there will be some college graduates and high school athletes playing.
The Lady Knicks hope to include NCAA Division I players in the future, however, will need to go through the NCAA to get the proper authorization necessary.
"We're very excited to begin the Premier League, we feel like its a natural continuation of what we're trying to do," said Utica Lady Knicks Vice President, John Snyder. "We think it's going to keep our brand out there and when people think of girls basketball in our area, they'll look to the Lady Knicks from beginning to preparing to play in high school, and then continuing to play in college and beyond."
The concept for the league began following the announcement that the King of King's summer pro-am league would be discontinuing operations. Many of the players who will take part in this league have previously played in King of King's.
"Our goal is to allow girls the opportunity to play basketball and prepare for the next level," said Snyder. "We were concerned that there wasn't going to be a place for our kids who have moved on to play in college to play in the summer. [We wanted to] give them that opportunity to give them a place to play."
This will be a six-team league, with roughly ten players on each team. Games will be every Tuesday night at Herkimer College at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.
Games will be two 16-minute halves of stoppage time.
Most of the talent will come from the Greater Utica area, but there will be participants from the Southern Tier, Albany area, Syracuse area and North Country.
"I couldn't be more excited," said Sarah Snyder, who is a graduate of Notre Dame High School and currently plays Division III at SUNY Oneonta. "I think it'll help me a lot. Basketball is year-round, it never stops. The only way to get better is playing."
For someone who is about to play at the collegiate level, the Premier League could also provide a way for them to get their feet wet against college-level competition prior to leaving for campus in the fall.
"I think it will help a lot because a lot of the girls are at college already so they're prepared," said RFA senior Kelsey McCaskill, who will play Division II at Nyack College. "I could learn to play in a game situation with great players who have already experienced that."
With no competitive men's league present in the local community, at this time, this summer, the Premier League also is aimed at growing the women's game and promoting local talent.
"Women's basketball is definitely making a rise, and I think people need to come and realize how good the talent really can be," said Sarah Snyder. "I think this could definitely help that."
The Lady Knicks say that the reception has been good so far, making them optimistic about its sustainability into the future.
"When we started reaching out to people and letting them know that we were working on this behind the scenes, it was a great response," said John Snyder. "The first year we will have some bumps as we get it going, but I think we'll just continue to grow and see great things happening."
Right now, there are about 45 players committed with registration still open for more.
As the league potentially grows, they hope they can begin to attract a lot more interest.
"I think it will bring out a lot of local talent," said McCaskill. "There are a lot of girls that love playing and a lot of them could get noticed here and want to play more."
Games will be open to the public. John Snyder said that he anticipates it to be free to the public, but that there is the possibility of a small admission fee someday for fundraising purposes.
"We're a charitable organization," Snyder said. "Everything we do goes back to our girls."
For more information on the league or to register players, click here.
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