CliffLaMay 10 03 WEB

CliffLaMay 10 03 WEB

Courtesy Photo
Cliff LaMay shoots the ball in this undated Courtesy Photo.

ALPENA — Cliff LaMay, 42, has been playing basketball since he was younger and he wanted to give that experience to his kids and other kids in the community.

LaMay is the founder of the DABS Basketball League in Alpena. He started it in 2019 and about 100 people got involved. In 2020, he had around 200 people sign up, but the league was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021 they had around 60 to 70 people and in 2022, it grew to 150 people.

It’s not just boys either. The league is made up of both boys and girls. One of the girls teams in the youth division this year nearly won the whole tournament.

“There was a girls’ team that played this year in the youth division and they almost won the whole thing,” LaMay said. “Every week they like progressed so much. The first week they were getting beat pretty bad. You know they’re kids so the scores weren’t that (high), but the girls playing with boys, they were ball players they weren’t girls they were basketball players there were a lot of other families and girls probably that were a little nervous to play against boys and stuff like that. Sometimes they get nervous, but these girls almost won the whole thing they lost by like two points.”

To get the league up and going, it took a lot of word of mouth, LaMay said.

“Well I mean it was a lot of word of mouth, I was out running around like ‘You gotta join this basketball league, you gotta join this basketball league’ you know really getting at people trying to get kids involved,” LaMay said.

In the beginning, a lot of high school seniors and juniors and adults in their 20s and 30s joined and LaMay couldn’t get any kids.

“Kids weren’t really interested,” LaMay said. “They were more scared to get down there. They think streetball is something different when it’s not really different from basketball. Kids were scared that they’d get bullied but it wasn’t the case.”

LaMay said what keeps him going is the kids. He said when he was growing up, basketball was a really big thing and a lot of people were down at Bay View Park playing in the early 90s.

“I love basketball it was like a pretty big thing in our community when I started going down there at Bay View in like 1990, 91, I think, it was like really a big thing a lot of people were down there playing basketball all the time and then as the years progressed, I played a lot of tournaments with some players that ended up being ranked number one in the state,” LaMay said.

He said after that, it slowly back pedaled. When he sent his kids down to Bay View to play basketball with others, there would be no one there to play with.

“And then my kids, my step son and my son, they started to get involved in basketball and I tell them to go play at Bay View and nobody would be down there so they’d be wasting their time riding their bikes all the way down to Bay View just to sit on the bench or shoot around a little bit and come so I said, ‘Enough I’m starting a basketball league and that’s how it kind of happened,” LaMay said.

LaMay’s love of Alpena and the need for a basketball league ultimately inspired him to start one.

“A need,” LaMay said. “There was a need for that and nobody was really reaching out and trying to bring that together. And I love Alpena. I think Alpena is a great place to live as well. So I wanted to be able to fill that need.”

LaMay also said he wanted to have it in Alpena to not only help kids grow, but to give people that option locally so they wouldn’t have to travel as much.

“And to it happen here in Alpena and not have to travel to different towns just to go play in a tournament and all that stuff. During this time money is tight, gas is high and everything like that, so I felt like for these kids to grow in that sport and just in general to be able to go out there on the court and not have somebody actually be a coach or nothing and try to figure it out on their own you know they grow up a little bit and learn the game on their own and you know that helps them through life a little bit,” LaMay said.

LaMay said he’s had kids come back and thank him for helping them out. Sometimes when kids are down at the court, he would help them with basketball by showing techniques and passing them the ball to get shots.

“When I used to be down at Bay View, you know kids would just be down there I’d work with them basketball-wise and stuff like that and they’d be like, ‘Yeah thanks a lot,’” LaMay said. “If they need to get shots up, I pass them the ball and let them put shots up and all that.”

He said eventually he would like to get into training kids. He’s helped his kids out a lot and he knows what it takes to mold somebody into what they want to do, he said.

LaMay said he does encourage others to get involved in their community.

“Absolutely,” LaMay said. “That’s the only way it’s going to grow, only way to keep your kids out of trouble. You know always have something going on where there’s something to do. You know there’s always got to be something going on to where you know your kids are involved and something they’re inspired by. Art, sports, music. Just stuff to keep the community going. Get kids different outlets.”

LaMay said watching the kids is the best part of the league.

“Watching the kids though is the biggest thing and them having fun,” LaMay said. “And just enjoying it.”

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