Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Net Gains: Harrisburg basketball league brings community, unity to Reservoir Park

Vadel Prince didn’t fall in love with basketball until he was 18.

At the time, he was going through a lot of life changes. For one, he was about to become a father while also in the process of deciding on a college. But he was also struggling with the pain of recently losing a friend to gun violence. It was a lot on his shoulders.

“I found myself on the basketball court, and I stopped thinking about everything else,” said Prince, an Uptown Harrisburg resident. “The court is the one place I can focus, relax and express myself.”

Prince, who never felt he had an outlet for his emotions, had finally found it.

Now, he hopes to share that feeling with others through Foundation 717, a Harrisburg sports league for adults.

When founder Stephen Range asked Prince to join him in starting a basketball league to give people something to do during the pandemic, Prince jumped at the opportunity. He became the president, and the pair started Foundation 717, which now offers basketball and football leagues in Harrisburg.

“There’s not a lot of basketball leagues in the middle of Harrisburg,” said Range. “There’s a lot of ability and people that could make it to the next level. They have potential; they just didn’t have the resources. This is helping them.”

Range has played the sport since he was 5 years old. As a Harrisburg native, he remembers watching and playing in basketball games in the community. It gave him older role models to look up to, he said.

He hopes to do the same with Foundation 717—bring a sense of community and unity amongst players and neighbors.

The league, in its third year, began in early June with six teams playing weekend games at Reservoir Park. From the first weekend, Prince could already see the level of competition that this summer would bring. The teams include a mixture of returning players, as well as new faces to the league. It keeps it interesting that way, Prince said. This year, Prince is also playing on the “HBG Nightmares” team. He might be the president, but there’s no way he’s going to just sit on the sidelines, he said.

But while the competition is fierce, the energy on the court stays positive.

“We can be competitive while still bringing each other up,” he said.

That’s important to both Range and Prince, as well as to Stefani Idžaković, the summer league coordinator for the foundation.

Over the first few years of the league, Idžaković has continued to implement rules around mutual respect, nonviolence and creating a family-friendly environment.

“We want the youth to see that we can use healthier outlets,” she said. “We actually got more interest after we started fostering a more positive environment.”

During this season, Prince has already seen a difference in the way players interact with each other, compared to past years. He recalled a time when a foul in the game would cause a fight to break out. But as he has tried to remain a positive example for other players—controlling his emotions during moments of frustration. He’s seen others take the same approach.

“Every year, I see people come back that change for the better,” he said.

Foundation 717 has seen the impact that its league has had on the community and hopes to expand in the coming years. Range said that they may offer additional sports options in the near future.

“I want to change the way the perspective is of our neighborhood,” he said. “This is just the beginning of what we are capable of.”

For more information about Foundation 717, visit


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