People stop and stare — and often sneak photos during games. But the women of Downtown Girls Basketball are used to it.
The all-female team, which is made up of models, artists, filmmakers, gallerists, authors and fashion designers, meets every Tuesday evening at a court in Tribeca, to play full-court, 5-on-5 basketball. There are no refs, no foul calls and no timeouts.
“Fashion Week can be a little thin because everyone is working,” captain Aria McManus said of the glamorous squad she founded seven years ago.
The graphic designer from the Lower East Side admits she’s not very good at basketball, so the city’s more “serious” women’s teams — which often require big fees, uniforms and a major time commitment — felt a bit out of her league.
“New York is all about exclusivity and most people feel on the outside,” McManus told The Post. “I wanted to bring people together in an inclusive space and just play basketball.”
For Cecilia Salama, a 29-year-old production manager at the chic cosmetics brand Glossier, inclusivity means not feeling pressured to look a certain way.
“I play with a full face of makeup and barrettes in my hair,” said Salama, who joined the team five years ago. “I don’t want my style to change because I’m changing into sports clothes. People see me and hear my soft voice and think, ‘Oh, she’s cute.’ But on the court, it’s totally different.”
In fact, the Upper East Side resident said, “I’ve been called out for being too competitive. I go shoot at 6 a.m. before work at least a few times a week. I just love the game.”
While Downtown Girls Basketball boasts almost 40,000 Instagram followers, McManus said around 20 players show up each week. She asks for a donation of $10 per game.
“We get a handful of new people every game, with a core group of 10 or so. Three or four of us have been here since the beginning,” McManus added.
Rather than tip off against more aggressive squads, the women split into teams of five and play each other in nonstop five-minute sessions until the sun goes down. (There are no lights on the court.) Members’ ages range from the 20s to 40s, although there is no cap, and skill levels vary just as greatly.
In 2016, Nike took notice and had some of the Downtown Girls model sneakers for a social-media campaign.
The team has also been featured in Cosmopolitan and members posed as models in a fashion shoot for The Fader magazine.
And like anything that’s en vogue, there are knockoffs.
Former Downtown Girls baller Alex Taylor, 29, decided to start an alternative team, Hoop York City, last year.
“Our skill level is more competitive,” said Taylor, who works at a boutique digital marketing agency and lives in Williamsburg. “It allows [both teams] to exist and there’s a lot of crossover.”
Taylor said she tends to recommend Downtown Girls to beginners, which is perfect for someone like Alexandra Nichols, 30, who moved to New York from Kentucky a year and a half ago and wanted to find a non-judgmental team.
“I love it,” said Nichols, a biotech scientist who now lives in Crown Heights. “I’ve been playing almost every Tuesday for a year, and I’ve only made one basket.”
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