Home-school hoops team competes at varsity level

Midlothian, VA (WWBT)- Players for the Central Virginia Patriots don't sit in classrooms and don't ride a school bus, but they do play plenty of basketball.  The players for the team are all home-schooled, but are getting the chance to play at the varsity level.

The Central Virginia Home-School Athletic Association was founded in 1992 and athletic director Jack Harrell oversees its operations.  The team is in the Virginia Commonwealth Athletic Association with Richmond-area private schools, but is not a member of the VISAA, meaning the Patriots cannot compete for a state title, despite winning their conference last year.  Harrell and the organization hope that will happen in the near future.

The program sees its fair share of obstacles.  The team does not have a home gym to practice in, so it rents gym time from area churches.  That comes at the expense of practice time, as the Patriots only practice two or three times per week, while most varsity teams at public or private schools practice five days a week.  Funding is also an issue, as most of the expenses fall on the parents.  Each player's parents pay registration fees prior to the season and the program also brings in money from ticket sales at games, but expenses are high, especially when renting gym time.

There are also rewards to this program for these home-schooled athletes.  The Patriots play in several tournaments throughout the year and participate in a conference, meaning they have solid numbers against solid teams.  College coaches and recruiters notice these numbers and Harrell can share the statistics with others and try to get his players exposure.  He says that recruiting his home-schooled athletes is starting to happen more and more.

The Patriots are competitive with many teams, finishing its league schedule 13-1 last season.  This week they'll open up at the Douglas Freeman Rebel Classic with Freeman, Mills Godwin and Benedictine.  They are going into this event fully expecting to have a chance at winning the tournament.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.