It’s not always about crowning a champion. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s not even about the game.
The West Portsmouth Complex is open for one reason — the children in the community.
“In the community, there’s really nothing for the kids to do,” Brandon Entler, West Portsmouth Complex administrator said. “We try to keep the gymnasium open as much as we possibly can for kids to come in and just hang out, maybe shoot some basketball; anything to just get them off the streets. A lot of them are trying to escape their home life because their home life is not that great, so they’re looking for an outlet to just get away — maybe get warm in the winter or get cool in the summer time. Some kids are looking to come in to get water or pop, maybe some snacks now and then. We’re just trying to provide a place to keep them out of trouble.
“That’s the main goal. We just want to provide a place for the kids to participate, even those kids that don’t participate in sports, they can come in and hang out, shoot basketball and interact with each other.”
The idea came to fruition in 2012 when Scott Davis and Jason Hurd started a non-profit organization called the West Portsmouth Youth Basketball Association. Originally, the duo was looking for a place for children to play basketball year around and have a practice facility. Eventually, the old West Middle School was purchased.
The Complex began with West pee-wee football and basketball programs. However, since that time, the Complex has branched out beyond the typical pee-wee sports. The Complex now features a travel basketball program called the Buckeye Storm. There are currently 18 teams in the program, spanning grades three through 12.
The teams currently practice from March until June, then they go and play in tournaments in Columbus, Cincinnati and Huntington, West Virginia, among other regions.
“It’s county-wide, but it’s even becoming bigger than that,” Entler said. “We have people coming from Scioto and Lawrence County. We have basketball tournaments in the winter time, we have teams as far away as Gallipolis, Chillicothe, and Huntington. I mean, they all come here to play basketball.”
And now, for the first time in its history, The Complex, along with the additional facilities in the Portsmouth West School district, are going to host a USBA (United States Basketball Association) tournament May 12-14, according to Entler. Approximately 100 teams, from different states, including various regions of the Tri-State, are scheduled to participate.
“That will be big for us,” Entler said. “It’ll be our first year hosting that. We’re looking for to it.”
Aside from basketball, The Complex also features the West Portsmouth Tanks, which is a semi-pro football team. They play all of their home games at the Complex, with the first one scheduled to take place April 29 against the newly formed Wheelersburg Buccaneers.
The Complex has also added a new sport, called Futsal, which is indoor soccer. The Complex added the sport last winter but the first official Futsal league will occur in the fall.
The Complex, which is a non-profit organization, also has a shopping mall, which currently features approximately seven shops. Entler said the mall currently has space available for rent.
While The Complex has a variety of attractions for family’s of different interests — the goal remains the same.
“All of this stuff is just a means to help pay the bills to keep the building open for the kids,” Entler said. “It’s all non-profit. Basically, any money that’s made there is put back into the facilities — to help make the facilities better, safer for the kids and just an overall safer environment.”
According to Entler, utility bills are the biggest obstacle facing The Complex.
“(The Complex) was made to be a school and run on state money,” Entler said. “We have to raise all of our money, which is close to $100,000 a year in utility bills, not counting insurances and things like that.”
The Complex also accepts donations as part of its overall goal. Those donations can be made via Paypal, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 740-876-8634. Anyone interested can also reach out to The Complex via Facebook.