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From Dawson's Desk : 2022 Grade State Basketball Reflection

It's hard to even write this: 2022 was our 31st year administering the Grade State Championships, and it was a wonderful, culminating event once again for the Minnesota youth basketball community. There were 1,458 teams over the three weekends of play.

I ventured out to the tournament sites just to witness the pure volume of fans and the excitement and love for the game of basketball. When I walked into Prior Lake High School, which has eight courts, there were people everywhere! Most game were very competitive, and our sportsmanship initiative with Youth 1st was positive and the majority of people took it to heart.

But more than anything, it felt like a post-pandemic return to normalcy.

The host groups did a wonderful job, and many of them were thrilled with the funds that they were able to generate. While a common misperception is that the MYAS receives all revenue from the event, the reality is that Grade State is designed to be a wonderful fundraising mechanism for our host groups by way of concession and admission sales. Minnesota Score reported that Doug Erlien, Osseo High School girls basketball varsity coach, said their volunteers sold hot dogs, pizzas, and popcorn, and they were hoping to earn the nearly $30,000 they raised two years ago.

“It’s great for us as a nonprofit,” Erlien told Minnesota Score, “especially in our building where our kids don’t all come from well-off families, to be able to get them things for our program and be able to provide them opportunities that they might not have otherwise."

I appreciate that so many of these host groups leverage the funds back into their youth, back into their community. The partnerships forged through hosting MYAS tournaments and events with youth athletic associations and high school booster clubs are so important to our organization. The opportunity to provide fundraising mechanisms for nearly 200 youth sports organizations, annually, through our events, is very rewarding. 

It was also great to see so many enhancements that created a fun atmosphere, from the Final Four Trophy Tour and even cornhole at some of the sites. We had more engagement through our fan guides and social media, which is something we need to keep building upon.

And that's always the challenge: We need to keep growing Grade State, making the  tournament stronger and enhancing the experience. We have a responsibility to move things forward.

I'd like to give a shout out to all MYAS tournament directors, who are amazing at representing us and working so hard. They put in long hours on weekends and sometimes must deal with unpleasant situations, while efficiently getting scores updated and retrieving stats and making sure everything flows smoothly.

I'd like to also thank our designated officials’ assignors because of the number of games/courts they were assigned and the overall quality of the officials they had on the courts. As an example, one of our assignors, Patrick Rock, was literally traveling to every tournament site he was assigned. I'd see him in Maple Grove, and then in Spring Lake Park a few hours later. It was awesome to see.

From an MYAS perspective, Grade State is an "all hands-on deck" effort by our team members. Everyone on staff has a responsibility, regardless of what program they administer. For instance, our baseball department assisted with the administration of the MYAS Grade State Basketball Championships. The event gives all of us great momentum and positivity as we transition to baseball and our other spring basketball programming.

My hope and ambition is to carry all the best aspects of youth sports that we've seen displayed recently into this spring and summer and throughout the fall and winter, toward an even more fruitful Grade State 2023.

 

MYAS Executive Director
MYAS Executive Director
Youth Sports Done Right