Once again, the Venice Basketball League (VBL) has returned to the beachfront. Local community players as well as professional players will be competing all summer for the right to bragging rights for the next year and of course to hoist the coveted VBL Championship trophy. The league has games scheduled every weekend from June through the beginning of August (all times and dates are subject to change) on the outside basketball courts of Venice Beach. The VBL is also hosting the Kids Venice Basketball League (KVBL) where children from the local community gather to develop their skills and simply have fun while also competing for the KVBL Championship.

On a typical VBL day, the KVBL will kick off the festivities and the events will escalate to the adult VBL games. There’s plenty of sun, great local food and food trucks, and great music provided a DJ from local station 93.5 KDAY. The lively and snarky game commentator known as Mouthpiece is also there to MC the events throughout the summer, providing great side commentary for attendees.

While in between games, I got a chance to interview Ramez Michail, a player on the team Pro Shot West that is sponsored by Hi Tech Auto Collision/Repair in Long Beach. He plays guard for Life Pacific College in San Dimas and he uses the Venice tournament as a way to get a great basketball workout in the offseason and to simply have fun. “Venice, by far has been the best basketball experience I’ve ever had the chance to be apart of. You get to play outdoors in one of the most well known areas, on the beach against some of the best competition you could find! I think all the players here, including myself, really appreciate the opportunity and blessing to be able to go out there week after week and put on a show for crowd.”

Michail is a returning player who has played consistently in Venice for about three seasons now, and he really expressed how the sense of community and involvement here at the VBL is simply amazing. “From the moment I stepped foot on the Venice courts and met Nick Ansom (CEO), he’s made it very clear that it’s all about giving back to the kids and the community. It’s unlike any other league I’ve been in. They really support you and try to help you make a name for yourself.”

The VBL may be fun and inclusive, but don’t forget, it is still a serious competition. Physicality and toughness are big parts of competing in this league. Michael commented on the topic saying, “Yeah, without a doubt it’s a dog eat dog league, but it’s still some of the most fun you can have on a basketball court!” When asked about his favorite part of the entire Venice Beach experience, Michail commented, “The atmosphere has to take the cake. You’re on the beach, the 93.5 DJ is out there playing music, you have Mouthpiece, one of most well known MC’S calling the game and taking the fun level up, and lastly you’ve got amazing competition! From pro guys like Metta World Peace, to division 1 players and pro guys from all around! I look forward to playing out there every single year.”

Playing in the VBL is more than just a competition; it’s great fun and great people coming together to make a truly enjoyable and inclusive environment that celebrates the sport of basketball that so many people love around the world. After the VBL Summer League is over in early August, the VBL World Games will start where even more teams from around the world will gather and compete to be world champions. For more information regarding the VBL activities, make sure to visit their website http://www.veniceball.com/ and make sure to check their social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@veniceball) for updates.