Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Sign up for ambitious Berlin basketball league, Saturday

(May 21, 2015) One man and an idea can be a powerful thing.
For Berlin resident William Johnson, a principal at the alternative school in Pocomoke, that idea is a massive basketball league based on Flower Street, with more than 200 kids participating during a month-long summer season.
Johnson pitched the idea during a Town Council meeting earlier this month, receiving unanimous approval from the council as well as pledges of financial support from two elected officials and the Berlin Police Department.
B.J. Johnson, who runs the basketball program at Stephen Decatur High School, is also involved in the league, and Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services is onboard as a nonprofit partner.
The idea, Johnson said, came from his upbringing in Wilmington, Del.
I grew up with this model,” he said. “In the summer that was what we lived for. We went to school all year, some of us got summer jobs, but at six o’clock it was game time. We all a went to this one park and we got drafted and we ended up playing.”
Johnson, who has lived in Berlin since 2009, believes Henry Park, on Flower Street, is the perfect place for a similar league.
“This seems to be the essence of this neighborhood,” he said. “From what I can see, this is where it all starts.”
It doesn’t hurt that the town recently built new bleachers surrounding the court on three sides.
“It looks like Rucker Park in Harlem,” Johnson said.
The league would run from June 15 – July 20 with high school teams playing on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m., using all three courts. Middle school games would take place on Tuesdays and Thursday’s, on two courts.
Johnson has contacted 18 schools in Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties, as well as a handful in neighboring states, and envisions an 18-team league. His fundraising goal is to raise $7,700, enough to pay for equipment costs, including uniforms, and hire professional referees.
As of press time he was halfway there.
On Saturday, May 30 at 6 p.m., Johnson will hold a signup and fundraising drive at Henry Park. Signup is $25 per player.
“My goal is to have enough coaches and enough kids here next Saturday to have a skills competition and actually have a draft,” Johnson said. “Right now I’m fundraising, I’m soliciting for coaches, I’m reaching out to the media – we just need to get the word out. I’m praying that this actually happens.”
For more information, call Johnson at 302-893-7175, or email Use the subject line “basketball league interest.”