Geoff Cowles/News Denny Stevens, left, watches an Upward basketball player during a game at First Church of the Nazarene in Mount Vernon on Saturday. Stevens is one of several people to volunteer hours each week as referees.

MOUNT VERNON — The words, “Play with passion, Play with purpose,” are only two of the guiding principles of the Upward basketball program, which touches the lives of over 200 young players as well as their coaches and their families.

Upward’s 32 teams faced off in the first set of head-to-head contests to open the season Saturday on the gym floor at the First Church of the Nazarene in Mount Vernon.

“This is a great first day,” Upward referee Mike Dapprich said. “We are so fortunate because we have great parents. The kids buy into the fact that this is a learning situation. The parents and the grandparents on the sidelines can make all the difference in the world in making this a positive experience rather than negative experience by encouraging the kids and encouraging the coaches.”

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Geoff Cowles: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews




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