October marks the start of the NBA preseason and many basketball fans are excited to witness once again how the big names fielded by California teams such as Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green will perform. But while these basketball superstars are ready to battle it out on the court for a championship, another basketball team in Southern California is playing the game to achieve a different purpose.
The team, who participated in the City of Anaheim Adult Basketball League is composed of former residents and staff of drug and alcohol treatment facility Anaheim Lighthouse. None of these players are basketball pros nor have they played together for a long time. However, more than winning their games every Sunday, the goal of the team is to develop a brotherhood that can help recovering team members in their addiction struggles.
There have been numerous studies that support how participating in team sports such as basketball can benefit players. According to research findings, sports can help in improving mental health and in combating depression. Team sports have also been shown to develop confidence and self-esteem, which are both important values when it comes to recovering from substance abuse.
Promoting this sense of community is another reason why Anaheim Lighthouse decided to participate in the Basketball League. One of the counselors at Anaheim Lighthouse, Johnny Ozmint, who is a part of the basketball team shared that he was amazed at how participation in the basketball team contributes positively to the players. According to Ozmint, teammates who were not close with one another before have developed a strong bond. At the same time, it also enhanced their sports and fitness skills.
Basketball is not the only sport that the Alumni program of Anaheim Lighthouse promotes. There is also a softball team that competed with other local teams in the City of Anaheim Adult Softball League. The team is also composed of former residents in recovery and staff of Anaheim Lighthouse.
According to one of the softball team members and former resident – Mitchell, the games gave him something to look forward to. He shared that it has given him purpose throughout the week and an opportunity to assume leadership roles that he strived for.
“I am very proud to be representing the wonderful people of Anaheim Lighthouse. I feel that I am a part of something bigger than myself. By putting on my Lighthouse uniform, I felt that I have a chance to create a new future for myself,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said that he is thankful for having the chance to make new friendships while playing in the league. He said that the fellowship he now has with his teammates is something he wouldn’t trade for the world. Mitchell also recognized the role of the softball team and the Anaheim Lighthouse Alumni Program in his personal recovery journey, saying that he would not be the same person without these activities.
Participating in sports such as basketball and softball are just some of the activities hosted by the Alumni Program of Anaheim Lighthouse. Some of the other activities include art night, dolphin cruises, high ropes activity, sober music festivals, outdoor movie nights, and more. In these activities hosted by the Anaheim Lighthouse, former residents are invited to attend to have a chance to develop new connections and engage in new experiences. While most of the activities are always well-attended, creating the sports teams proved to be popular among residents and was very successful in developing fellowship.
Jocel Bibera, Alumni Coordinator of the facility, shared that creating the sports team is a great opportunity for the former residents to engage in active lifestyles while they develop numerous skills including team building, leadership and determination. Bibera said that encouraging participation in such tournaments allows their alumni to integrate back into the community and also pursue sober and healthy activities.
According to one Lighthouse alumni who played for the softball team – Samantha, the best thing about this initiative is that even alumni members who are not part of the team come to the games to support the players.
“We may not have won many games but the members all grew closer with one another. I saw how everyone put in the hard work during practice and during the games. Even alumni who weren’t playing came to cheer us on. The banter, the support for one another, the laughter… it was so much fun,” shared Samantha.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.