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League Structure

Updated September 8, 2016


CLAY Team Sports Ministry, Inc.'s original name was the Christian League of Athletics for Youth, and quickly became simply known as CLAY. CLAY is a non-denominational Christian organization whose mission is to use the Holy Spirit to shape the spirit of competition. As such, team sponsors are limited to Christian churches. Church sponsors shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with all CLAY rules. Sponsoring churches are strongly encouraged to use CLAY as a complement to existing children's and youth ministry programs, and/or as a springboard to (re)launch vibrant programs that can meet kids where they are and take them on a journey of faith.

Leagues are supported by Paradigm Shift Ministries, but require a local leadership team to oversee day-to-day activities. This leadership team is comprised of every pastor of every sponsor church or their designated CLAY contact person.

CLAY Team Sports Ministry Will:

  • Provide website support, including links to local church sponsors for easy promotion and access to local ministry activities.
  • Develop and maintain Specialty Rules consistent with the sport.
  • Develop and maintain other rules and guidelines as necessary.
  • Maintain all forms (such as player registrations, adult volunteer forms, facility provider contracts, official's certification).
  • Schedule games and post schedules on the CLAY website.
  • Manage all organizational functions so local communities do not have to create separate entities. Therefore any person who wishes to make a donation to support a local CLAY program should make that donation to a church.

Church Sponsors Will:

  • Promote the vision of CLAY Team Sports Ministry.
  • Promote and enforce the use of the Athlete's Pledge, CLAY Code, CLAY Specialty Rules and other rules or guidelines put forth by CLAY.
  • Engage participants in other ministry activities.
  • Ensure every practice and every game starts with the Athlete's Pledge, devotional and prayer.
  • Ensure facility providers hosting games complete CLAY's online Facility Provider Agreement.
  • Ensure all adult volunteers complete CLAY's online Adult Volunteer Form, Background Check and Concussion Awareness Training - and Officials Certification if volunteering to serve as a referee.
  • Ensure a Youth Participation Form is completed for every player, student coach or other student volunteer, and is signed by his or her parent or guardian.
  • Register their church and teams using CLAY's online Church/Team Registration.
  • Determine - and enforce - a player eligibility rule, including components of attendance and service, and grant exceptions when necessary to keep a player connected to ministry.

Elementary Division Player Fees:

  • FUNdamental (grades 1-2): $35
  • Developmental (grades 3-4): $35
  • Competition (grades 5-6): $35

Junior/Senior High Division Player Fees:

  • Junior High (grades 7-8-9): $40
  • Senior High (grades 10-11-12): $40

Church sponsors will collect player fees and submit payment in full for their teams.


  1. 8-There is a seven (7) player minimum and a thirteen (13) player maximum number of players on a roster.
  2. Grade levels determine divisions as follows:
    • Grades 1-2: FUNdamental
    • Grades 3-4: Developmental
    • Grades 5-6: Competition
    • Grades 7-8-9: Junior High
    • Grades 10-11-12: Senior High
  3. There will be separate boys and girls divisions for each level, except for the FUNdamental Division.
  4. Players must be at least six (6) years old as of November 1, 2016 and be less than eighteen (18) years old as of April 1, 2017.
  5. Sponsoring churches may allow players on their teams who have no previous affiliation with the sponsoring church, provided the player meets all other eligibility requirements imposed by the sponsoring church. Where eligibility requirements differ, CLAY rules shall supersede. 
  6. The sponsoring church is responsible for collecting players fees and submitting them to CLAY (it is recommended to submit one payment for all players). 
  7. The sponsoring church is responsible for managing player eligibility.
  8. The highest grade level of any player on a team will determine division placement. However, if a team includes players who are younger than the division in which they are placed, parent or guardian permission must be obtained in order for those players to "play up". Special consideration must be taken with regard to players who have been held back in school. Their size and skill level may require their placement in the division most suited to their actual age. 
  9. Players are not permitted to play in a division below their grade level.
  10. Team registrations are due by October 15
  11. Church Sponsors and game day facility providers must provide a Certificate of Insurance to:
    • CLAY Team Sports Ministry

      202 South Vine Street

      Marion, Ohio 43302

  12. CLAY Team Sports Ministry shall supply game-day t-shirts. Shirts shall bear the CLAY logo, the sponsor code (example: Main Street Church of Christ could be MSCC), and a basketball-style number (one or two digit numbers using the numbers 0,1,2,3,4 and 5 only). Numbers will be issued at random.
  13. If there are more than eight (8) teams in one division, coaches may be polled for classifying teams by skill level. Regular season play will then be scheduled accordingly. 
  14. All teams advance to postseason play, using CLAY's unique playoff structure: Teams are be "classed" for playoff games ("A", "B", etc.), based on season records. Classes will consist of no less than two and no more than six teams. Classes with only two teams will play a "best two out of three" series. Each class within each division will award a championship.
  15. The FUNdamental Division will follow a different postseason format, playing a round-robin style tournament. Scores are not recorded and all players receive a participation award.


(1st - 2nd Grade)

  • The FUNdamental division is all about that: learning the fundamentals of the game while having lots of fun! We use smaller balls, smaller hoops, smaller courts and FUNdamental Specialty Rules so that even our youngest kids can run around and enjoy some basketball. The emphasis here is not winning and losing but learning the basic fundamentals like defense, dribbling, passing and shooting. The FUNdamental division ends its season with the "Fun Division Finale," which is a crazy round-robin style tournament where two different teams square off every five minutes.
  • The "FUN Division Finale" can be made into a special event. For example, the "FUN Division Finale" in Erie (PA) has been held at Erie Insurance Arena, home of the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League.

(3rd - 4th Grade)

  • The Developmental division is designed for third and fourth graders who are ready to move up to the full size court and hoops. The Developmental division is designed to help developing players grow as young athletes both on and off the court. Developmental Specialty Rules have been put into place in order to help players develop an understanding of the game while promoting safety, such as prohibiting full-court press and stealing off the dribble. The Developmental Division uses intermediate size balls and ends the season with CLAY's unique playoff system, where every team qualifies for the playoffs, and every team has the opportunity to compete for a championship trophy.

(5th - 6th Grade)

  • The Competition Division serves as the gateway to Junior & Senior High play by promoting competition while still establishing some boundaries to help players develop. For example, full-court press is still prohibited, but stealing the ball of the dribble is now allowed. The Competition Division ends the season with CLAY's unique playoff system, where every team qualifies for the playoffs, and every team has the opportunity to compete for a championship trophy.

(7th - 9th Grade)

  • The Junior High Division is for seventh, eighth and ninth graders who may or may not play middle school, junior high or junior varsity high school basketball (local school district rules should be consulted in determining player eligibility). The Junior High Division ends the season with CLAY's unique playoff system, where every team qualifies for the playoffs, and every team has the opportunity to compete for a championship trophy.

(11th - 12th Grade)

  • The Senior High Division is for tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders who do not play varsity high school basketball. The Senior High Division ends the season with CLAY's unique playoff system, where every team qualifies for the playoffs, and every team has the opportunity to compete for a championship trophy. This is competition at its best, and these players should be expected to rise up and be leaders, mentors and examples to younger players both on and off the court. Senior High players can serve as student coaches with the permission of their Church Sponsor.