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Defy Gravity: Couple starts youth basketball league for area children, teens

August 9, 2017
By ERIC DeVAUX ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A new basketball league for youth has found a home in Lehigh Acres.

The Defy Gravity Basketball League will use the gym at Lee Boulevard Baptist Church for its activities. Registration will run through August, and evaluations will be held on Sept. 2.

Founders Mike and Marcie Bonilla started the league to help children and teens.

"He's just trying to help youth get to the next level in their game," Marcie Bonilla said.

Mike Bonilla is one of six coaches involved with the league.

"He was a former college basketball player and it's his dream to really help the kids in the Lehigh community," she said. "He's an alumni of Lehigh Senior High School."

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Bonilla noted that the choice to pick Lehigh for the league was a no-brainer for them.

"We're from the community. We currently live in Lehigh and we just want to give back," she said. "There are no basketball youth leagues (in Lehigh)."

Bonilla added that she and her husband already feel connected to the area's youth.

"We both work for Lee County School District," she said. "(Mike) actually worked at Veterans Park. He's worked at Lehigh Senior - he knows all the students, the parents and family members."

Mike Bonilla previously offered after-school programs to families.

"We can't go anywhere in Lehigh without somebody stopping and saying, 'Hey, Coach Mike. How you doing?'" she said.

The idea of the league began to form about three years ago.

"(Mike) was training out in Fort Myers. Those were the only gym locations you could get," Bonilla said. "It's really hard to get a gym out in Lehigh. It's very limited."

In addition to lack of availability, the costs were high.

"Mike doesn't charge athletes big amounts of money to train," she said. "Sometimes he doesn't charge at all because he knows what type of students he is dealing with."

The league is made up of the following groups: ages 4 to 6, 7 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 15.

The couple decided to do three-on-three matches, not the usual five-on-five matches.

"Three versus three is more effective for young kids to learn the game because they're going to touch the ball more," Bonilla said. "Players are going to have to move more."

Practices will be held once a week, with the games on Saturday.

To join the league, the cost is $125 per player with a sibling discount of $25.

The league will last five weeks, ending on Oct. 7 with a tournament.

"It's our first league and we want to test the waters and see how many kid could get out," she said. "We want to see what the response is."

The couple want to see the league grow and become a fundamental part of the community.

"One day, my husband envisions having a facility there in Lehigh where he has basketball courts," Bonilla said. "He wants to eventually do after-school programs, where we bus kids from Lehigh Elementary, Mirror Lakes, Tortuga, Sunshine and we do homework help and tutoring and training. For high school, we want to implement SAT/ACT prep."

Lee Boulevard Baptist Church is at 3107 Lee Blvd.

For information, contact 239-600-3037 or

Families can also visit online at: and click on the "DGB League Info" link.



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