PORTSMOUTH – Since 1989, over an estimated 20,000 boys and girls in the tri-state area have spent a fraction of their summers and falls participating in the McGraw Summer and Fall Basketball Leagues.
In that time, founder Kurt McGraw has seen generations of families pass through the leagues he organized as a young adult over 30 years ago.
“I look every chance we have a game and I see players who’s parents played in our leagues,” said a reflecting Kurt McGraw. “I think the kids in our leagues are having just as much fun today as they did when we started three decades ago.”
McGraw started the idea of the McGraw Summer and Fall Leagues at the age of 19, in a time where outdoor basketball was all local kids had the opportunity to play during their summers.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of things to do, the YMCA league just closed, leagues were falling by the wayside,” McGraw said. “I had two younger brothers and we started with one court. When we started we had 70-75 kids our first year and back then, you could only put two kids from each school on same team. Played a lot of games over the last 30 year years. Back in he 90s at the height of the league, we had over 1,000 kids play each year.”
In their 30 years of being an organized league for the area’s youth, the McGraw League has always called home 1321 State Route 140, Portsmouth.
In an effort that started with one court, the league has grown and expanded throughout its’ 30 years of existence.
“When we started we only had one court, then we added two,” said McGraw. “We get some donations from parents and businesses, we have sponsors for our t-shirts.”
In an era where kids spend much of their time devoted to their AAU or club teams, the McGraw League gives the youth of the tri-state area an alternative option to grow their game with their friends and peers.
”Our league gives kids a place that’s different than what they’re used to,” McGraw said. “There’s not a lot of outdoor playing anymore, but that’s what we had when I was young. It’s really a different game playing outside than playing inside; We try and have a more relaxed atmosphere.”
As being a staple in the community for three decades, it’s ultimately fair to wonder how long McGraw, now 49, would like to run the league that he founded as a way for he and his friends to have a place to play organized pick-up.
“I’m going to enjoy doing it as long as I enjoy doing it,” McGraw relayed. “I’ve got a lot more free time now than I’ve had in past. Starting next year we’re going to expand to do some training, performance training, starting in May. These will be programs where kids can get instruction on how to better their game.”
If you or someone you know is interested in playing in the McGraw Basketball League, summer or fall, search “McGraw Basketball League” on Facebook, or visit www.mcgrawleague.net for more details.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved