MAC owner, Dan Stulberg, poses with players, coaches, and fans following the final MAC YBL game after 17 seasons. Besides officiating, Dan's duties included scheduling, building supervision, hiring of officials, mopping floors between games, cleaning, filling in at the admissions/concessions table, settling disputes, paying bills, opening and closing....
[The Coldwater, Marshall, and Battle Creek Recreation Centers have expressed an interest in hosting the Youth League that was previously run here at the M.A.C. Contact those offices if you have a youth team seeking a league.]
Dear Coaches, Referees, Parents, and Players:
I write this final email of the season for a couple reasons. First to thank each of you for your participation in our Youth Basketball League and for everything that you did to provide your kids with a very positive experience of playing team sports.
Certainly organized youth sports competition has it's share of unfortunate negative experiences ranging from outrageous parent behavior in the stands to overzealous coaches who think it's more about them than the kids, but in my 17 years of hosting a youth basketball league at the MAC, I've seen hardly any of that from our parents or coaches.
What I've seen for the most part is loving parents who support their kids and enjoy watching them learn, develop, grow, and compete with their classmates and friends. And I see coaches who donate a great deal of their time to provide a positive learning experience for the players. Nearly all of them demonstrate encouragement, patience, and support for their players as they attempt to improve their skills and knowledge of the great game of basketball.
Not all of the coaches have the background or coaching experience that they wish they had, but many have stepped up to fill a void that otherwise would've meant the players wouldn't have the opportunity to participate. To those coaches I give a special tip of my hat.
I'd also like to extend my sincere thanks and compliments to the many fine officials who have loyally worked our games year after year for what I think they all will agree was very modest pay. It is common nature to complain about the officiating, and it's an extremely difficult job to do well, but over the years I've received consistent praise for the overall quality of our league's referees and a great appreciation for the caring and teaching manner in which they officiate the games. I'm very grateful for the devoted and quality service that virtually all of them gave to the MAC league.
Hosting the MAC Youth Basketball League over the years has never been easy, or without it's headaches. I will not miss the challenges and countless hours of trying to put together the schedule, the hassle of policing the crowded building, or the "pleasant task" of cleaning up after a 20-game day that had close to a thousand people through the building; nor will I miss hearing an occasional parent fan yell at me (while I was refereeing) for not calling traveling on a 3rd grader who took a step in the back court before beginning his dribble.
What I will miss is hearing the stands erupt in elation when their kids' team pulls out an exciting 1-point win at the buzzer, or watching the expression of a novice 3rd or 4th grader make their first basket (as well as the parents' reaction from the stands), or watching the players celebrate a close win, or the coaches and parents comfort and encourage their kids when they lose a hard fought game.
We often hear about the negatives of organized youth sports, however there are many, many positive experiences and lessons to be learned from them as well, and I'm proud to say that I think the MAC league over the years has fostered and witnessed far, far more positives than negatives.
Many of you have probably already heard that the MAC will no longer be hosting a youth basketball league. That is true. I've been approached by some people who believe the MAC could be a terrific location for a country dance establishment and after much research and deliberation, our family has made the decision to give this a try. We hope to open the new venture, to be called Backroads Saloon, later this spring. It will serve food and drink, and provide a fun form of dance recreation to hundreds of people each week. I hope many of you will stop in to check it out with friends and family. I think it will be a nice addition to our region.
For those who are still interested in participating in this type of youth basketball league, don't despair. I know that both the Marshall and Coldwater City Rec departments are interested in picking up the slack and continuing the tradition of this experience, and I've also recently heard from the Battle Creek Rec office. I am passing on your contact information to their departments and I'm sure they will be contacting you next fall to alert you of their programs.
So thank you coaches, referees, parents, and above all, the kids who were always chomping at the bit each week as I unlocked the doors, and would bound into the MAC gym with great enthusiasm and love for the game. I wish you all good luck, good times, and good lessons as you continue to work at and enjoy team sports. I hope our paths will continue to cross in the many years to come.
MAC YBL Founder/Director
P.S. I'd also like to thank all the people who helped staff the building over the seasons, including my loving wife in the early years, the young men and women who have worked the admissions table and helped clean up afterwards, past managers Rodney Church and Jimmy Biggs, long-time official and this year's assigner of officials, Mike Rop. and a special thank you to colleague and friend, Ron Holcomb, who took on the added responsibilities of managing the games and building these past two seasons while I enjoyed my first two extended winter vacations. I am grateful and indebted to you all.