The town's most skilled basketball players will be playing in the Matt Turley Alumni Summer League beginning next week.
The league, in its fifth year, has grown steadily each summer. Last year, a dozen teams were in play. This year founder (and Patch Contributor) Jeff Bonistalli hopes to sign up enough players to fill 14 or 15 teams.
The league was set up as a memorial to Matt Turley, a 2003 Ridgefield High School alumnus who was killed by a drunk driver while doing missionary work in Argentina.
Though the league has been run in the past by the Ridgefield Basketball Association, it is being handed over to the Boys & Girls Club this year, as the RBA decided that alumni sports were not really its jurisdiction. Turley league games used to be played all over town but will now take place almost exclusively at the club.
A few other changes are afoot with the league as well. For the first time, 17 year olds can play and reversible jerseys have been ordered for the teams to replace the former t-shirt-style jerseys. Play this year has also changed from eight-minute quarters to running time, or 20-minute halves.
Though Bonistalli said that most basketball players in town know about the league, there are always those players who "fly under the radar"—maybe they just moved to town or attend private school during the year.
The league is open to all Ridgefield residents—but only Ridgefield residents—and has a reputation for a high level of play and a friendly spirit of competitiveness.
Bonistalli started the league in memory of his friend, who was both a great scholar and a terrific athlete, playing both basketball and football.
"He was a phenomenal basketball player, role model and friend," said Bonistalli, who admits that, while he and Turley were not the closest of friends , he had always admired the star athlete's skills.
In the league's inaugural year, Turley's parents were presented with a framed and signed jersey bearing Turley's team number, nine.
The best thing about the league, according to Bonistalli, is that "everybody knows everybody. It's a 'Cheers' league where everybody knows your name," he said. The players range from teens to guys in their early 30s.
It costs $115 to sign up for the league. Draft pick will take place June 6 and league play should begin June 9. Contact the Boys and Girls Club at 203-438-8821 for more information.