Author Archives: aybtour

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AYBT Basketball Night with the Indiana Fever (Wednesday, June 7th, 2017)

AYBT Basketball Night with the Indiana Fever

Indiana Fever vs. Phoenix Mercury

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017


Doors Open 6PM*

*Subject to change


Passcode: aybt

You are invited to participate in a special group night out with the Indiana Fever. Invite your friends and family as we sit together as a group and receive a special discounted ticket price. Watch the Fever take on Diana Taurasi and Brittany Griner with the Mercury.



Indiana Fever

ATTN: Steve Miknis

Phone: 317.917.3081




Your Price                       Location

$18.00                              Endzone

$25.00                              Lower Sideline

$40.00                              Courtside

$40.00                               Legends – Includes all you can eat/drink buffet

*Tickets are subject to availability.  Ticket price includes a 10% Marion Co. Admissions Tax.  No Refunds or Exchanges.

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By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal

This past spring marked the completion of an incredible journey for the Eaton Rapids (MI) Greyhound varsity girls basketball team.

The Lady Hounds of Eaton Rapids celebrating with their first AYBT Nationals title trophy in 2010 after defeating Michawaka 42-36. The win  was the first of three-straight such titles for the team.

The Lady Hounds of Eaton Rapids celebrating with their first AYBT Nationals title trophy in 2010 after defeating Michawaka 42-36. The win was the first of three-straight such titles for the team.

Successful championship runs in several American Youth Basketball Tour (AYBT) events culminated this past winter in a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Class B state hoops title.

And the combination of AYBT events and a whole lot of hard work (and good fortune) during the regular season proved to be the difference.’

“AYBT has played a major roll for the program,” said current Eaton Rapids Athletic Director, and AYBT coach, Jeff Dassance. “As a feeder to the high school, the youth experience through AYBT greatly benefitted the girls basketball team.  From 5th-8th grade, the core group of girls played in at least three AYBT events.”

The list of accomplishments certainly is impressive, including five-straight division titles (2009-2013) at the annual AYBT May Madness District Series Event (DSE) in Mt. Pleasant and three-straight (2010-2012) AYBT division national titles in Fort Wayne.

Add to that the Lady Hounds’ 51-38 victory over Grand Rapids South Christian for the 2014 Class B state title, which capped an outstanding 23-5 season, and it all amounts to one incredible run.

Click here to view the post title game interview with Eaton Rapids head coach Willis Whitmyer.

In fact, the state championship did a lot to erase several years of Greyhound disappointment. As successful as the team has been in the summer and regular season (53-13 across three years), the squad, which is coached by Willis Whitmyer, just couldn’t seem to put it all together in the postseason.

First-round district tournament losses in 2011 and 2013, and a loss in the regional semifinal in 2012, gave the team a lot to overcome entering the 2014 postseason.

Dassance thinks that the team’s tight bond was a major factor in past and more recent successes.

“I believe their most recent success comes from their lasting bond that this group has established with each other.  Most of these girls have been playing together since 4th grade and have experienced a lot of success since about 6th grade and on.”

Looking more closely, though, it is clear that it was the disappointments during the 2014 regular season that fueled the team’s playoff run.

“The most recent season (had some) ups and downs,” Dassance explained. “The five losses was the most they had experienced since five (of the girls) were brought up on varsity as freshmen.  These losses meant that they wouldn’t win the league championship.”

But redemption was swift in the district final game, as the Greyhounds dismantled Capital Area Activities Conference champion Jackson Northwest 45-23, avenging a 33-30 regular season loss to the Mounties and helping set the tone for the rest of Eaton Rapids’ tourney run.

A string of double-digit wins followed, climaxing with the decisive win in the title game.

“Obviously, this season is the crown jewel of their high school careers,” said Dassance, who went on to mention it is the school’s first-ever girls basketball state title.

Dassance got involved with coaching in 1988, while still at Olivet College. From 1991-99, he was a math/science teach and coach (JV girls basketball, freshmen boys basketball, and varsity baseball) at Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills.

An Eaton Rapids grad, Dassance was very happy to learn that he would be returning to his alma mater in 1999 to become the Assistant Principal and have the opportunity to raise his children in the same town he grew up in.

Soon enough, he was coaching the girls who would go on to win the state title when they were just five-and six-year olds. To bolster the Greyhounds’ existing summer program, AYBT events were added to the slate.

Along the way – not only has Dassance coached the title team, which included his twin daughters, he has coached his older son, who is now a seventh grader, for three years (including an AYBT National Championship in 2011), and now coaches is youngest son, who is in fifth grade – Dassance has been impressed with the way the AYBT organization plays to each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and provides a great payoff for teams who do well.

“AYBT to me is the best option for several reasons,” he said. “The system of rating yourself and determining what level is best for your team is how it should be.  AYBT offers several events that are both near and far.  And, the Nationals at Spiece Fieldhouse is an awesome event.”

As the kids get older, they still gravitate toward AYBT events.

“Through the years, my girls team has played in other tournaments and AAU events – they also experienced success there,” he said. “But AYBT was what we always came back to, even in their high school years. Coach Whitmyer and I were able to work together so that the girls could go to Nationals each summer, after their high school team camp and leagues.”

Dassance said the top tier competition at AYBT events does a good job of exposing his team to a diverse set of looks and paces.

“As a community based school,” he explained, “it was an excellent option for us to play other community based schools as well as face some of the better competition that some of the All-Star or elite travel teams presented. The chance to face the different tempos, defenses, offenses, etc. was an invaluable experience that benefitted the girls.

The 2014 Michigan Class B state-title team from Eaton Rapids poses with the championship trophy immediately after the victory.

The 2014 Michigan Class B state-title team from Eaton Rapids poses with the championship trophy immediately after the victory.

“The court time against quality opponents is a great asset,” he continued. “The opportunity to play against different schools of different sizes is also great.  Playing AYBT at the ‘highly skilled’ level helped – along with their high school summer programs – prepare these girls for all sorts of offenses, defenses, presses, styles of play, etc.

“They felt confident against anything that they faced in the tournament run because they had faced it all before through out the years in AYBT and high school team camps,” he concluded.

And it wasn’t always about their time on the court.

“AYBT not only helped to build their basketball skills,” said Dassance, “but the trips to tournaments helped to build friendships and create good times that the girls will always remember and cherish.

“AYBT in no way replaces the daily grind of hard work and dedication during the season,” he said. “But it certainly assists in building confidence, cohesion, and teamwork.”

On the court, in the locker room, or away from the sport, even, AYBT is particularly good at helping form bounds that his players carry through graduation.

“AYBT gives community schools a chance to compete, grow and develop into a team on and off the courts,” said Dassance. “The camping, hotels and meals out together – team building stuff – is so important, especially at a younger age.

He concluded, “Once the players form that bond through fun, commitment and success, it’s hard to break.  Of the eight senior girls on this year’s (state title team), six of them will be on scholarship at the college level…but only 1 in basketball.”

Then he added, “They wanted to play together for each other and the school like they had since third grade.”

Click here to view the Eaton Rapids Lady ‘Hounds Facebook Page:


The American Youth Basketball Tour is America’s foremost leader in team basketball skills and character development. For more information on AYBT district tournaments and events, head over to

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Helping Kids Win On and Off the Court

By Matt DeLaere, Marketing

Powerstroke Grade 6 Boys, AYBT National Champions

Powerstroke Grade 6 Boys, AYBT National Champions

Congratulations to the Powerstroke Boys Grade 6 basketball team, champions of the American Youth Basketball Tour’s national tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Stahls’ is proud to sponsor the team, which stresses sportsmanship and personal development in addition to athletics.

Southfield, Michigan’s Powerstroke Athletic Club uses basketball to teach discipline, personal responsibility, and accountability.  Powerstroke, founded by former Ford Motor Company Vice President of Global Quality Bennie Fowler, requires its players to perform well at school and at home in an effort to develop not just athletes, but young men and women of character.  All coaches are working professionals who volunteer their time and efforts to teaching kids how to play the right way.

One of those coaches is Stahls’ very own Rick Genrich, Director of Global Procurement & Distribution. Rick helped lead the team of 11 Metro Detroit area sixth graders to their first championship in four visits to the Fort Wayne tournament.

“We have a great group of kids who are also extremely talented athletes and basketball players,” Rick says.

The emphasis on the overall development of the players continues when the topic turns to Ted Stahl. “He truly and sincerely believes in what we are doing and he appreciates the opportunity to help kids develop as people and players.”

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American Youth Basketball National Tournament coming to Grand Rapids for first time

By Steve Kaminski |
on July 20, 2016 at 1:37 PM, updated July 20, 2016 at 1:38 PM
Fort Wayne’s loss is Grand Rapids’ gain.

The American Youth Basketball National Tournament is in its 22nd year, with the past 12 being played in Fort Wayne. A schedule conflict forced tournament officials to look elsewhere for a host city, and event organizer Jim Goorman of Muskegon found one in Grand Rapids.

The tournament, which will be played at seven different Grand Rapids locations, will open Thursday and continue through Sunday’s championship round. It marks the first time in the event’s history that it will be played in Grand Rapids.

Over 200 boys and girls teams are expected to compete, and Goorman said teams will be coming in from West Michigan as well as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. It is open for players in grades 3-12, and not only will divisions be based on grades but skill level, too.

MSA, 5435 28th Street in Grand Rapids, and Cornerstone University, will host the championship rounds on Sunday. Forest Hills Eastern, Northview and NorthPointe high schools, the Courthouse Athletic Center in Byron Center and the Mary Free Bed YMCA also will host games during the course of the weekend.

“We will have a lot of boys varsity teams,” Goorman said. “They will be a big part of the tournament.”

For more information, visit

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By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal

Over 30 years.

Five state titles.

Jim Goorman, AYBT President

Jim Goorman, AYBT President

Five-hundred-and-four career wins.

And a legion of former players and fans that would walk over fire for him.

Yes, it’s been quite a career for Coach Goorman.

Last year, Jim Goorman, a founding member of the American Youth Basketball Tour was honored with a selection to the Muskegon (MI)  Area Sports Hall of Fame (MASHF) for his outstanding tenure as head coach of the Western Michigan Christian varsity boys basketball squad.

The ceremony was held last June at the Muskegon Country Club.

Goorman finished his career at WMC with an astounding overall varsity record of 504-282, capturing state titles in 1992, ’99, 2008, ’09 and 2010 while playing in the state title game a total of eight times. He was just the third coach in school history.

However, in an admission that may surprise some, when Goorman took over the head coaching duties from Elmer Walcott prior to the 1979-80 season, he certainly didn’t envision anything close to a 33-year career.

“I certainly had some big shoes to fill,” said Goorman of Walcott, who, in his own right, won three state titles. “Now, after the state titles and all those wins I can honestly say that when I became head coach I never would have guessed I would have lasted as long.”

A graduate of Holland Christian High School, and then of Calvin College, in his day Goorman was quite the baseball prospect. Eventually, though, he landed at Western Michigan Christian beginning in 1968, teaching physical education and coaching baseball (for 26 years) and JV basketball.

Eleven years later, he began his run as varsity head basketball coach, culminating in a career that arguably can be considered the greatest in Muskegon area basketball coaching history. For example, Goorman finished with 50 more wins than former Muskegon Heights head coach Okie Johnson, who was a member of the inaugural MASHF class.

For his part, Goorman remains humble in that conversation.

“There are so many great coaches in the (MASHF),” he said. “Just to be considered along with all the others is an honor to me. It was a special way to cap of a successful career.”

Never one to sit on his laurels – and frankly while looking for something to do in the summer off season – in the mid-1990s Goorman took over as the director of the North American Youth Basketball organization. Eventually he helped found, with the help of a group of basketball enthusiasts, what has become the AYBT organization.

Coach Goorman celebrates with the Michigan Class D boys basketball state title in 2010, capping a string of three straight state titles and five across his career.

Coach Goorman celebrates with the Michigan Class D boys basketball state title in 2010, capping a string of three straight state titles and five across his career.











“What started out as a summertime job became the perfect opportunity to stay involved in basketball and help develop the skills and talents of young basketball players,” said Goorman. “It was a great fit. I’ve enjoyed it very much over the last nearly two decades.”

Goorman said what he loves most about AYBT is the chance to improve the skills of younger players.

“I’ve seen the improvement,” he said. “Now kids in third grade can dribble with both hands, between their legs, behind their backs. The increase in the level of skill between (before AYBT) and now is obvious. We like to think we have something to do with that.”

He added, “We’ve held onto the belief that if we focus on basketball skills, kids will get better and become better players.”

But it isn’t just about skills. Goorman hopes AYBT offers life lessons which extend beyond the individual.

“We’re here to offer more than just players a chance to get better,” he said. “We want to see teams get better. And we hope that playing (in tournaments like AYBT), their commitment to getting better, together, over the summer will pay off later in the season.”


The American Youth Basketball Tour is America’s foremost leader in team basketball skills and character development. For more information on AYBT district tournaments and events, head over to