Top Story of the Week Hot Fun in the Summertime!

Cranston Youth Girls rock…

Top Story of the Week

Hot Fun in the Summertime! Cranston Youth Girls Basketball Assoc keeps the girls playing!

by John CardulloIt started in the summer of 2014 and over the last six years the Cranston Youth Girls Basketball Association’s “3 v 3” has grown from 32 girls playing summer basketball to over 100. The original idea came from CYGBA Director and President PJ Thibodeau who explained “When I was a kid, I could go to a playground and play all day.” Thibodeau, who is also the girls’ varsity coach for the Cranston West Lady Falcons, went onto say, “these days, you see playground courts empty way more than you see them filled. If there are people playing basketball, usually it’s older males and not girls. Girls deserve the chance to learn the game at their own pace.”

Thibodeau, was never someone that you would call a “wall flower”, began CYGBA because he felt that girls’ basketball should be more than it was. He believed that the girls needed and would benefit from a better instructional base and go on to compete at a higher level than they were. The impact of this belief was felt immediately. The girls that were playing in the CYGBA went on to competitive travel AAU teams as well as their school teams. A basketball junkie at heart, a girls’ sports advocate by day and yes, a comedian at night, Thibodeau blends all these skills into his coaching.

“I once witnessed PJ calling a time out at a Cranston West girls’ game. Frustrated that the team wasn’t following his instructions on the court, he began talking to them in French because they just weren’t understanding English”. Said a spectator at one of his high school games. “He got his point across to the team in a humorous way without berating them, the team responded and went on to win the game”. His antics are legendary during practice and his message is always on point but delivered in a positive way.

When developing the “3 v 3” summer league it was decided that there would be no coaches, the reason was “we want to encourage autonomous learning” and there are no practices, “because it’s summer and we want the games to be a fun way to continue playing basketball, without taking up too much free time”. The reason for “3 v 3”? “The fundamentals of “3 v 3” basketball encourage the girls to play man to man defense, set screens and picks, and create more back cuts as well as pick and rolls on offense. These are fundamentals to the game of basketball that are used at every level. There are 5 girls on each team and the substitute in a rotating basis. The periods run 5 minutes each. The games have 5 periods to allow the girls equal playing time. This is about inclusion and participation.” Thibodeau concluded.

At a recent game, held at Cranston’s Doric Ave. basketball courts (games are played 3 nights a week at both Doric Ave and Hope Road courts), an unnamed middle school coach who came down to watch some of his players play said, “I witnessed my girls communicate on the court, move on both defense and offense and do all the things they were coached to do, I was filled with pride and satisfaction knowing they listened and learned from me and the coaches at practice this past season”. He went on to say, “what Coach Thibodeau and his staff put together here is amazing and will only go to benefit these girls as they move on, wherever they go. This is not just a Cranston thing; it is a girls thing”.

You can see the girls in action at 450 Hope Road outdoor courts on Mondays and Tuesdays. Game times are 5:45 pm, 6:30 pm, and 7:15 pm. Or at the Doric Ave. outdoor courts, which have 3 to 5 games per night between 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you would like more information about the CYGBA or the various leagues they offer go to their website:

John Cardullo, sports writer, RINewsToday

He can be reached with sports story ideas at: [email protected]