Bangor Y draws on its basketball history as it plans for future

The former Bangor YMCA building at 127 Hammond St. was built in 1902. The Bangor YMCA moved its operation to 2nd Street and joined with the YWCA last year.
Currently, it has no gymnasium on site so it runs its basketball programs at different sites in the city.
Without a gymnasium of its own, until one is built in the near future, the Y is calling on its successful past history as it plans for this second season without a gym on campus.
The Bangor Y was the first organization in Eastern Maine to start organized basketball leagues for grades 3-4, the Atomic League, the Peewee League for grades 5-6 and the Middlers League for grades 7-8.
These leagues were developed, like Little League baseball age groups, by John Coombs in the mid-1950s.
Coombs also began the first postseason undergrad basketball tournament in the mid-1950s in the state.
The Bangor Y has been a leader in developing basketball programs for different age and grade levels.
My first contact at the Bangor Y was in the early 1950s as a player in the Church League, which was played each Saturday.
It was held in the old original gym which had a balcony running track around the court. It was very small, but it was indoors. There were two divisions, junior high and high school. I played in the junior division.
In the late 1950s the old running track was removed and the gym remodeled. In 1962, the new Cole Gymnasium was opened.
The Y also ran vacation league tournaments during Christmas and February. I took part in these with Bob Kelley, a lifelong friend and former physical education teacher and coach for 40 years in Bangor.
0ur first paying jobs were at the Y on Saturdays as referees for the Church League. We were paid $2.50 a game and did up to six games a day.
Thousands of basketball players have played basketball at the Y over the years. Many of Bangor High’s great players participated in these programs.
When Bob and I were college students from 1954-59 we each coached in the Peewee and Middlers Leagues.
So we have an excellent history, knowledge and fondness for these programs. It is probably one of the biggest reasons we each went into coaching.
This year’s Y basketball program is drawing from this history. Three age groups have been added since we coached. There is a Munchkins League for ages 4-5, Mighty Mites for grades 1-2 and high school for grades 9-12.
Popular travel teams for boys and girls teams in grades 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 have also been added. They participate in the Eastern Maine Travel League.
It takes many volunteers to coach, referee, and do several other tasks in running these programs.
The Y intentionally engages parents, relatives and families to participate each season to help with these jobs.
The in-house team placement clinics (everyone makes a team) will be held on Nov. 3. Coaches are needed prior to this session. The site will be announced, but the times are: 8:30 a.m., grades 1-2; 9:45 a.m., grades 3-4; 11 a.m., grades 5-6; and 1 p.m., grades 7-8.
Volunteers need to attend several clinics and sessions before the start of the season.
The travel teams compete in a very competitive League. Only players who live in Bangor or attend schools that send students to Bangor qualify to try out.
All travel tryouts are held at the Cohen School as follows:
— Oct. 30: 5-6 p.m., girls grades 7-8; 6-6:45 p.m., girls grades 5-6; 6:45-7:30 p.m., girls grades 3-4; and 6:45-7:30 p.m., boys grades 5-6.
— Nov. 1: 5-5:45 p.m., boys grades 3-4; 5:45-6:30 p.m., boys grade 7; and 6:30-7:30 p.m., boys grade 8.
Here are some of the past successful practices we will cover for both the in-house and travel programs:
1. Veteran successful middle school and high school basketball coaches will supervise the tryout sessions.
2. Drills to determine skill level and potential skill development are specifically developed for each grade level.
3. Balancing teams will be done by player position/skills.
4. Coaching clinics will be done for each level.
5. Resources are available for each coach and team on an individual basis.
A new part of the program following the regular season will be the opportunity to hold the in-house championship for each league at the Bangor Auditorium on Sunday, Feb. 10.
This event will be followed by an end-of-season banquet for all teams.
I know from a personal experience as a player, referee and coach at the Y helped lead me to my career as a physical education teacher, athletic director and coach for 40-plus years.
After refereeing my first games at the Y, I have gone full circle and I’m glad be be back refereeing games at the Y.
Remember, there is no “I” in team, but the Y is sure glad there are “U’s” in our volunteers.
If you want further information, please stop by the Y and pick up a brochure about the leagues or call 941-2808 and ask for Jodie Burckhar, the recreation sports director.