History of Amherst Youth Basketball
Founding of the League
- Amherst Youth Basketball was founded circa 1978 by Rich Hooper and Bob Harper, with support by Bob Barnhart.
- Initially, there was a 4-6th grade boys division and a 7-8th grade boys division.
- The three founders, coaches, and parents refereed regular season games. Playoffs were refereed by high school basketball officials.
- Amherst Youth Basketball supported approximately 150 players.
- Registration was performed by parents standing in line at Mill Middle School and hoping to get one of the coveted spots so their child could play.
- 1990: Girls started to play.
- There were 4 teams with girls of all ages and they played exhibitions against 6th grade boys teams.
- The league began to grow, although no accurate figures are available.
- 1994-95: The first Amherst Youth Basketball Board was formed with Bob Barnhart as president. Additional board members included Pete Babierz, Bill Casey, Gary Coscia, Paul Duggan, Bob Durfee, and Vince Galleta.
- A Boys High School Summer league was introduced with High School JV and Varsity teams from the town of Amherst.
- 1995: Bill Casey was appointed president of AYB. Under his leadership AYB began to flourish.
- Basketfest was introduced.
- The Boys High School House League Division was introduced for players who were not members of their high school team.
- High school referees were used for all games and parents were asked to keep time and to do the scorebook.
Entering the Current Millenium
- 1999 - 2005: Russ Miller was elected and served as President.
- Registration grew from ~350 to ~950 boys and girls. The 2004-2005 season saw the largest enrollment in AYB history, to date.
- 2001: A player enumeration substitution schedule was implemented in order to ensure equal playing time for all players.
- 2001: Joanne Ahern, Kris Flaschner, and Rosanne Stolzenburg were the first females to serve on the AYB Board.
- 2002: On-line registration was introduced with Miller serving as AYB's first Web Master.
- 2003-2008: Rosanne Stolzenburg served as registrar and web master.
- 2004: AYB went to a reversible mesh jersey, using blue/white for the girls and red/white for the boys.
- AYB initiated a relationship with UB basketball. Many AYB teams played exhibitions at halftime of UB Men's and Women's games and were able to attend games free of charge. Eventually, board member Gil Licata took over and enhanced this relationship. In addition, Mr. Licata arranged for AYB teams to play at half time of Canisius College games and some high school games.
- Registration grew from ~350 to ~950 boys and girls. The 2004-2005 season saw the largest enrollment in AYB history, to date.
2005 to 2013
- Brad Tichenor was elected as president of AYB in 2005.
- Partnerships with Dick’s Sporting Goods and with other local businesses were initiated.
- 2006: The Girls High School division was started with Jed Dutweiler serving as first coordinator.
- 2006: AYB developed its mission statement, authored by Gil Licata.
- 2006: AYB updated its logo.
- 2007: A third grade division was introduced for boys and for girls.
- 2008: Jackie Grano took over as Web Master and Registrar.
- 2009: AYB started selling advertising on its web site.
- 2012: AYB began to use full uniforms (i.e., reversible jerseys and reversible shorts).
2013 to present
- Russ Miller became the first AYB president to hold the office for a second, non-consecutive, term. He is the fifth president and the fourth unique president, following Barnhart, Casey, Miller, and Tichenor.
- 2013: The AYB web site is enhanced and overhauled for consistency and ease of navigation.
- The AYB web site introduces an extensive set of 'Skills & Drills'.
- 2013: Rules progress in divisions.
- In all non-entry level divisions, rules are modified to bring them ever-closer to HS rules, including complete HS rules in Boys 8 and nearly complete HS rules in Boys 7.
- Rules in the entry level divisions are enhanced in order to provide an appropriate opportunity for young players to experience the joy of basketball through confidence in their abilities: 4-on-4; in-the-paint zone in 1st and 3rd quarters; in-the-arc "man" in 2nd and 4th quarters.
- The 3-point shot is made available to all divisions.
- 2013: AYB takes the lead in creating a Western New York Youth Basketball Travel League.
- AYB, through tryouts, creates Travel Teams in 4th Boys, 5th Boys, 6th Boys, 4-5th Girls, 6th Girls, and 7-8th Girls.
- Teams play Orchard Park and Hamburg in official league play.
- Teams enter tournaments throughout WNY.
- Teams play numerous other travel teams from WNY and Southern Ontario.
- 2014: The Town of Amherst approves the request from AYB to allow the trophy case in Clearfield to be used as an AYB display case.
- 2014: A Summer league for HS JV and Varsity Girls teams is created, mimicing the HS Boys Summer league that has been run by AYB since the 1990s.
- 2014 & 2015: A Summer program is offered for players graduating from the AYB 3-8th grade divisions. Each division plays one night a week for six weeks. Skills & drills followed by scrimmaging.
- 2014-15: Girls 7-8th Grade starts the season with Skills & Drills, with teams being formed after HS Modified teams are selected. This enables a more equitable league that can accomodate players who need to drop after making modified and players join after not making modified.
- 2014-15: Girls 3-4th Grade introduces several sessions of Skills & Drills to start the season, before forming teams. This enables the coaches to bond, veteran coaches to share their expertise with all players and coaches, and provide for a more thorough evaluation of the players in an effort to make equitable teams.
- 2014: The Travel League is enhanced, named the Great Lakes Youth Basketball Travel League, so that individual teams may enter a wide variety of boys and girls divisions. Teams from WNY and Southern Ontario are eligible so long as they have gym time to host their home games. Divisions include Boys 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th grades, as well as Girls 4-5th, 6th, & 7-8th grades.
- 2015+: The first anonymous Parents evaluation of Coaches is introduced, using the on-line resource SurveyMonkey.
- 2015-16: Largest enrollment in AYB history. Based on somewhat incomplete records for the 2004-5 season, it appears as if 2015-16 had a handful more players enrolled (930) than did the 2004-5 season. These are the only two seasons, to date, for which enrollment exceeds 900 unique players during the traditional Oct-March season. Note that in 2004-5, players did not start until 4th grade, there was no Girls 9-12th grade division, though the oldest girls division was 7-9th Grade, and the Boys HS division was nearly full with 16 teams (still largest to date).
- 2015-16: Girls 3-4th Grade uses colored wristbands on players during the 2nd and 4th quarters so that the girls can easily identify who they are guarding.
- 2015+: Girls from Clarence are permitted to play in AYB in an effort to provide stability and vibrancy in the girls' divisions.
- 2015+: Girls from anywhere in WNY are permitted to play in the Girls 9-12th grade division.
- 2016+: The October Coaches Meeting is held on a basketball court (Clearfield) in order to accommodate demonstrations of drills with AYB players, demonstrations and explanations of AED/CPR, discussions of Concussion protocols, and Rules. Standard beginning-of-year presentations and distribution of materials and equipment are also included. Note that AED/CPR and Concussion sessions and protocols are new to AYB this year.
- 2016-2017: Largest enrollment in AYB history, for the second year in a row, and for the third time ever topping 900 players. Nearly 1000 unique players are registered in the standard AYB Oct-March program.
- 2017-2018: First female Level Coordinator (Kim Dunlop, Girls 3rd-4th) joins the board.
- 2017-2018: First time in history that we have had enough girls in a single grade to create a girls division with only one grade. The girls divisions this year are G34, G5, G67, and G8-12. Boys divisions continue as B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9-12.
- 2017-2018: Largest enrollment in AYB history, for the third consecutive year. Nearly 1000 players are registered in the standard AYB October-March program.
- 2017-2018: The Boys HS (9th-12th Grade) Program has ~220 players in its Sunday night division, up from a record high last season with just under 170 players.
- 2017-2018: First year for programs to give back old uniforms and donate (lightly used) sneakers.
- 2017-2018: Brad Tichenor, President of AYB for 8 seasons, long-time board member, and coach is the first person inducted by the Board of Directors of AYB into the AYB Hall of Fame.
- 2018-2019: Females are now level coordinators of three divisons: Boys 3 (Kim Dunlop), Girls 3-4 (Jenny Kupczyk), and Girls 5 (Kim Dunlop).
- 2018-2019: The girls program now has, sort of, two divisions targeted at a single grade. Divisions on the girls side are G34, G5, G6, G8-12, with girls in grade 7 having the option of playing in either G6 or G8-12.
- 2018-2019: Girls from Amherst, Akron, Clarence, Depew, Kenmore, Lancaster, and Tonawanda are permitted to play in G34, G5, G6. Girls from anywhere in WNY can continue to play in G8-12. The Town of Amherst charges AYB non-resident fees for the use of Clearfield for any use by any Girls teams.
- 2018-2019: While enrollment is down compared to last season, it exceeds 900 players for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in the 41 year history of AYB.
- 2018-2019: The Town of Amherst shows significant support for AYB, providing Clearfield 4.5 weekday evenings, all day Saturday, much of Sunday, and on Monday holidays. They have agreed to provide a storage facility at Clearfield, as well as allowing some additional identity recognition at Clearfield. The Town has agreed to acquire additional seating for players and spectators and to consider upgrading the baskets and rims. Further, the Town has started cleaning the floors on all 3 courts on a regular basis. Finally, the Town has agreed to work with us in developing a reasonable financial policy for allowing girls from out of Amherst to play in order to provide an enhanced experience for all of the girls.
- 2018-2019: AYB starts to offer clinics. Initial clinics are run by former Buffalo Braves NBA Rookie of the Year Ernie DiGregorio, aka, "Ernie D."
- 2019-2020: AYB changes uniforms to a more modern style, while keeping the colors the same (reversible red/white for girls and blue/white for boys).
- 2019-2020: AYB Travel Teams were equipped with (slightly different) uniforms, shooter shirts, and gym bags.
- 2018-2019: Bill Casey, former AYB President and long-time board member and coach, is inducted into the AYB Hall of Fame.
- 2019-2020: The Girls 7th-8th Grade division moves to be a primarily Saturday (all games) division, consistent with the Girls 9th thru 12th grade division, in order to accomodate older girls who are involved in numerous activities. In fact, the divisions are merged to provide a very healthy Girls 7th-12th grade division. Optional division-wide practice during the week and games on Saturdays.
- 2019-2020: AYB starts using lawn signs to advertise to the community. In conjunction with the Town of Amherst, lawn signs are placed at more than a dozen town facilities (libraries, parks, golf courses, and the like).
- 2019-2020: The August 7th, 2019 edition of the Amherst Bee published an extensive article on the first two inductees into the AYB Board Hall of Fame: Brad Tichenor and Bill Casey. Congratulations to two great gentlemen!
- 2019-2020: The board inducts Bob Barnhart, Bob Harper, and Rich Hooper into the AYB Hall of Fame. Hooper and Harper are recognized as the founders of AYB, with assistance from Barnhart, who served as the first President of AYB. The Amherst Bee published an article covering this induction on February 26th, 2020.
- 2019-2020: AYB updates house league uniforms to a more modern style.
- 2019-2020: The AYB travel teams are outfitted with reversible uniforms distinct from the house league uniforms, including shooting shirts and gym bags.
- 2019-2020: Enrollment once again exceeds 900 players in our traditional house league. This is the fifth year in a row and the 6th year in AYB history that enrollment exceeded 900 players in house league.
- 2019-2020: During the winter break, a Throwback 3-on-3 event and an Open Play "I've got next" 5-on-5 event were conducted. This was the first time such winter break events were provided since the very early 2000's.
- 2019-2020: AYB offers a January clinic featuring 1973-74 NBA Rookie of the Year, Ernie DiGregorio.
- 2019-2020: AYB finishes its championship weekend on March 7 and 8, roughly one week before the COVID-19 virus starts to shut down most events and businesses in New York, and about two weeks prior to it shutting down much of the United States.
2020 to Present
- Joe Buonocore takes the reigns as the 6th President of AYB, following Barnhart, Casey, Miller, Tichenor, and Miller.
AYB does not own its own facilities. Therefore, gym time is rented from various facilities. When the league was formed, Mill Middle School and Heim Middle School were used, along with some games played at Gateway. Once the Clearfield Recreation Facility was constructed, AYB became one of the mainstays of the facility. Currently, over 50% of its games are played on the three courts at the Clearfield Recreation Center. Over the years, courts in the Amherst, Sweet Home, and Williamsville school districts have been utilized. Numerous other facilities have been utilized over the years including Central Christian Academy, St. Greg's, First Trinity, the Harlem Recreation Center, The Chapel at CrossPoint, the Amherst Youth Foundation, the Jewish Community Center, and St. Leo's, to name a few.
Board of Directors
- The original board of directors had 8 members.
- Currently, the Board of Directors has ~20 active members, including President, Registrar, Scheduler, Treasurer, Equipment Manager, Director of Officials, Coordinator of Special Events, and Level Coordinators for each division, to name a few.