Inspiring Teamwork

Young athletes who want a fun, supportive environment can build skills and friendships alike at Scripps Ranch National Junior Basketball (NJB). The program recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of providing quality recreational play for Scripps Ranch boys and girls, as well as players from surrounding communities. Before this season’s registration opens on Sept. 1, learn more about the Scripps Ranch NJB mission through our conversation with Co-Director Marilou Pennington.

Q&A with Co-Director Marilou Pennington

cover_srnjb4What is the history behind the league?
Scripps Ranch NJB just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as a league. The founders of the league, Thom Diachenko, Kevin Haupt, Randy Ortiz, Irv Vaughn, and Robert McLoughlin, set out to form a recreational basketball organization that would serve the youth in the area, allowing them to learn the game, play in a supportive environment, and build friendships during the elementary and middle school years. The chapter is under the National Junior Basketball umbrella, which is a nonprofit organization with over 25,000 participants in six states and has been in existence since 1984.

What communities does the league serve?
The league is open primarily to the Scripps Ranch community and also includes youth from the surrounding Mira Mesa and Poway communities.

What is the mission of Scripps Ranch NJB and how does the organization go about fulfilling it?
Scripps Ranch NJB’s mission is: to inspire our youth; regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin. To practice the ideals of health, citizenship, and character. To implant the game elements of safety, sanity, and intelligent supervision; and to keep the welfare of the player first, foremost, and entirely free of adult quest for glory. To emphasize teamwork for all participants.

The NJB board meets regularly throughout the year to ensure the NJB mission is prevalent in all league activities. Board members are present at every game to observe player, parent, coach, and referee behavior. Suggestions for the improvement of the league are always welcome and discussed with all board members.


What is the timeline for the season?
Regular season games begin the weekend before Thanksgiving and continue through the end of February. Post-season all-stars play continues through the end of March.

What are the registration dates for your upcoming season?
Online registration for the 2017-18 season will open Sept. 1. Registrations are accepted
only online.

Where and when do games take place during the season?
Games are typically played every weekend. Division 1 (7th/8th grade) games are on Saturdays and Divisions 2 (5th/6th grade) and 3 (3rd/4th grade) are on Sundays. Scripps Ranch High School is the main playing site with some teams traveling on occasion for inter-chapter play with the Encinitas and Fallbrook chapters.


What overall experience can basketball players expect while playing for Scripps Ranch NJB?
The chapter focuses on sportsmanship and player development through the Divisional Play Program where players are placed in separate boy’s and girl’s divisions by grade level. Players attend an assessment prior to the beginning of the season to determine skill level and assist with placement on teams. Practices are held a minimum of once per week where the players work on skills and game strategy with their volunteer coaches. Games are made up of five eight-minute periods where each player is required to play in one full period each half and then during the fifth period, the coach can substitute players freely.

Scripps Ranch NJB’s mission is: to inspire our youth; regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin. To practice the ideals of health, citizenship, and character.

How many teams does the league have? What is the age-range breakdown?
During the 2016-17 season, the league had 48 teams with 475 boys and girls from third grade through eighth grade.

Can you share any stand-out moments from last season?
We appreciated the support the league received from NJB alumni, especially players who are now playing at the high school level. We welcomed Chris Dudley, a 16-year NBA veteran, as the keynote speaker at our closing ceremony, and we are very proud of all of our all-star teams, especially the sixth grade boys’ team who won the NJB National All-Net Championship!


Who is on the Scripps Ranch NJB board?
Board members of Scripps Ranch NJB are typically parents of current or past league players who desire to carry out the mission of the league. They volunteer many hours throughout the year to assist in the areas of administration, coaching, facilities, marketing, scheduling, and special events.

At-A-Glance | Scripps Ranch National Junior Basketball


At-A-Glance | Scripps Ranch NJB Co-Director

Name: Marilou Pennington
Position at SRNJB: Co-Director with Tania Kramer
Community: Traviata-Scripps Highlands
Profession: Government Accounting and Financial Planning & Analysis Manager at  DRS Daylight Solutions
Family: Husband – Ron; Children – Nathan (18), Julia (16), Gabriel (15), and Olivia (12)
Favorite Places in 92131: Miramar Lake, St. Gregory the Great Church and School, Manila Sunset Grille

What is the most rewarding part of this position? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of serving on the SRNJB Board is the opportunity to see a player develop throughout the season and have such a great experience that they want to return for the next. The most challenging part is ensuring that coaches, parents and players understand that the league’s focus is developing players and fostering a recreational and encouraging environment. There are several programs outside of the league that are available for players who want to continue playing in a more competitive setting. For example, we are affiliated with the Falcons “feeder” teams for boys and girls that focus on preparing players to play in high school after they have “graduated” from our league. Contact for more information.


Tell us about the coaching staff and the type of experience and skills that they bring to the league.
Our coaches are volunteers who have had experience coaching or playing basketball at various levels. They all undergo background checks and are required to attend our coaches training clinic prior to the start of the season.

Where do the league’s referees and scorekeepers come from?
Trained referees are part of the NJB network and scorekeepers are high school students with NJB experience.


Does Scripps Ranch NJB need volunteers? If so, how does one get involved?
Anyone interested in volunteering with the league should email the NJB board at

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of 92131 Magazine?
We encourage you to visit our website to find out more information about our league. There are a limited number of players we can accept each season due to facility limitations so it is best to register as soon as the registration system opens. Hundreds of players have participated in our league over the years, and we constantly receive positive feedback from alumni who look back fondly at their time in NJB.