The Santa Monica YMCA celebrated it’s 2017-18 youth basketball year with its annual year-ending awards banquet held last Friday evening.  It was a culmination of four consecutive nights of award being handed out, the first of which were geared towards the just completed spring league.

That was the latest of the three leagues in which 300 players and 30 teams competed in a co-rec, skill based league with four divisions from ages 5-14, as they had in two previous seasons beginning last September.

Eighth grader Estevan Rodriguez was chosen as the Santa Monica player of the year, and is off to continue his career at Samohi.  Coach of the year awards were given to Steve Rice and Adam Wasson, while Joey Little walked home with the year’s Most Inspirational Player honor, getting the trophy now named for his father J.J., who passed way of a heart attack earlier this year.

Gian Luca Tosonotti was voted as the Y’s Most Improved Player since last September, and Brent Heisler was given honors as top Referee of the Year.  Heisler took classes and passed them to become a certified Southern California basketball official while working at the Y.

The Winter Major League Leopards were voted as the “Team of the Year” edging out the Spring Minor Oaks, as both went undefeated and untied and went on to defeat a team comprised of that division’s all-stars at season’s end.

Three people were inducted in the Santa Monica YMCA Youth Basketball Hall of Fame for the 2000’s:  Jim Fleigner, the winningest coach in terms of victories and championships since the league resurrected in 2011, his son Keegan who played in every season since the league re-opened then and is now off to play for the Vikings, and Mathias James, a long-time and valued volunteer assistant at the Y.

League director Pete Arbogast, who is also the Hall of Fame Radio play-by-play Voice of the USC Trojans, announced his retirement from the position he has held since bringing the league back on line.

He plans to stay on as a volunteer assistant to ensure a smooth transition to the new director, and to help plan special events for the kids.

Registration for the fall league opens on line at and in person at the Y, located at 6th Street and Santa Monica Blvd. (with free underground parking), on July 30.