Shining on the court, on the council

Iowa+City+Councilor+and+former+D.W.+Daniel+High+School+player+Kingsley+Botchway+rebounds+a+ball+during+a+Prime+Time+League+game+in+the+North+Liberty+Community+Center+on+Sunday%2C+June+25%2C+2017.+Prime+Time+League+is+a+summer+basketball+league+for+the+past+31+summers+in+Iowa+which+is+currently+lead+by+director+Randy+Larson.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Shining on the court, on the council

Iowa City Councilor and former D.W. Daniel High School player Kingsley Botchway rebounds a ball during a Prime Time League game in the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Prime Time League is a summer basketball league for the past 31 summers in Iowa which is currently lead by director Randy Larson. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa City Councilor and former D.W. Daniel High School player Kingsley Botchway rebounds a ball during a Prime Time League game in the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Prime Time League is a summer basketball league for the past 31 summers in Iowa which is currently lead by director Randy Larson. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa City Councilor and former D.W. Daniel High School player Kingsley Botchway rebounds a ball during a Prime Time League game in the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Prime Time League is a summer basketball league for the past 31 summers in Iowa which is currently lead by director Randy Larson. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa City Councilor and former D.W. Daniel High School player Kingsley Botchway rebounds a ball during a Prime Time League game in the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Prime Time League is a summer basketball league for the past 31 summers in Iowa which is currently lead by director Randy Larson. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

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City Councilor Kingsley Botchway takes to the hardwood during Prime Time and shows basketball isn’t just a kid’s game.

By Joseph Cress

[email protected]

NORTH LIBERTY — Wearing a sweat-soaked blue basketball jersey while sneakers squeak across polished hardwood, Kingsley Botchway runs up the court on defense as a whistle blows.

Botchway, an Iowa City city councilor, is called for a foul during a Prime Time game on July 9, much to the 31-year-old’s surprise. He jokingly protests the referee’s call in front of many basketball fans in the North Liberty Community Center, 520 W. Cherry St.

“When I’m out there, I like to poke on the refs a little bit, let them know that I’m the old guy. ‘Don’t call any walks, or travels, or try to call any fouls,’ but I have to hack a little bit, but I definitely talk a little trash,” Botchway said in jest. “… I think it makes the game interesting and fun.”

In addition to running for re-election to City Council, Botchway is the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator and director of equity for the Iowa City School District, while also being a father and husband. Despite his commitments to the public and to his family, Botchway still makes time to run on the court with some of Iowa’s best men’s basketball players, occasionally getting dunked on by Division-1 athletes about a decade younger than him.

“I have been proclaimed probably the best elected official in basketball …” Botchway said. “I’d say in the entire state … Definitely in Johnson County — for sure in Johnson County.”

He said the experience of playing in Prime Time, headed by former City Councilor Randy Larson for the past 31 years, proves to be a tiring but rewarding task.

While facing off against a slew of Iowa’s men’s basketball players, Botchway is determined to keep the highly recruited athletes on their toes. He noted that he does not mind walking away at the end of the night with a few bruises if it means he was getting by some of the younger guys on the court.

Basketball proves to be more than just a game for Botchway. He said he uses the competition and physical activity to reach out to community members and connect to them in different ways outside the context of his role as a city councilor and community member.

Iowa City Councilor and former D.W. Daniel High School player Kingsley Botchway shakes hands with players after a Prime Time League game in the North Liberty Community Center on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Prime Time League is a summer basketball league for the past 31 summers in Iowa which is currently led by director Randy Larson. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa City resident since 2007 — the year he moved to complete his law degree — he said he makes an effort to play at as many gyms in the area as possible and recognizes his potential role as a mentor to the summer league’s younger players.

“[Playing basketball] puts me in different spots in the community that [officials] don’t necessarily get the opportunity to be a part of,” Botchway said. “A lot of those people I hear from, or I see them in the street and they say, ‘Hey,’ or we could talk about things in different levels once I know what they’re doing and once they know what I’m doing.”

Larson said he met Botchway while playing basketball at North Dodge Athletics Club, and he has grown to realize the two share similar philosophies about the game. Larson also noted the importance of Botchway’s role in the league.

“I’ve always thought that we want to have the best 10 players on each team no matter who they are, and I think the older players have something,” Larson said. “I think it’s a good example of how basketball is a game you play all of your life … It can also help you continue to realize there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way, and only character separates the people who do it the right way.”

Larson and Botchway are not the only city councilors who took to the hardwood during their time in office. Current Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton said he enjoyed playing basketball as a young city councilor in the late-1980s and mid-90s, and he believes that people’s character on the court says a magnitude about their character off the court as well.

“I thought as a basketball player, you play the way you are,” he said. “If you’re a good team player on the court, you’re a good team player off the court, and it was fun to encounter all other sorts of people while playing the game.”

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