MAYB growth extends to Hillsboro

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
It?s big and it?s coming to town this weekend.



Some 96 ninth- and 10-grade teams, plus their coaches, parents and

assorted fans?2,000 people by conservative estimate?will converge
on

Hillsboro from Friday evening through Sunday to play basketball in
the

gyms at the high school and Tabor College.



They call it Mid America Youth Basketball.



It?s big.



How big? Consider that the 96 teams coming to Hillsboro are only
one

age division in a tournament that is officially located in Newton.
The

entire event will involve nearly 4,000 fourth through 12th graders

playing on 645 teams in 60 gyms and 17 cities within an hour of

Newton.



How big? The Newton tournament, though by far the biggest, is only
one

of 64 tournaments MAYB sponsors throughout middle America from the
end

of May through the end of July. Some 2,000 teams will participate.



?Something about whatever we?ve done, the competition level and
the

intensity level seems to be better than what they?ve done (in
other

summer basketball programs),? says Greg Raleigh, the man behind
the

MAYB phenomenon.



He and his staff of six assistants work year-round out of the back
of

Raleigh?s insurance agency in Newton to organize what he believes
is

the largest weekend boys and girls summer tournament in the
country.



Planning MAYB events keeps their hands full year round. But in
spring,

as the tournament schedule nears, Raleigh says the pace is
downright

nuts.



?Partly because I?m running an insurance business, too, I put in

80-hour weeks for a couple of months,? he says. ?And I?ve got a
lot of

people who do the same.



?There?s a lot of nights when we?re here until two in the morning

trying to sort things out,? he adds. ?During the day, you can?t
get

anything done because the phone just rings and you just tread
water.

You?ve got to use the late time to do some things while nobody
else is

around.?



Teams pay an entry fee to play in an MAYB tournament?$940 to play
in a

four-tournament package, or $275 for an individual tournament. But

don?t think Raleigh and his four full-time staff are getting rich
for

their efforts.



?To tell you the truth, there are times when I wonder why we ever

started doing it,? Raleigh says. ?But I love it when we run our

(Newton) tournament. I love seeing all these kids from all over
the

place. I?m just amazed by the talent.?



For Raleigh, a Halstead native now living in Hesston, MAYB grew
out of

his experiences as a former high school basketball coach at Lebo,

Lyons and then at Halstead until 1998. He also was an assistant at

Bethel for a time.



Raleigh believes summer basketball is a key way for young players
to

develop their skills during the off season, but he was discontent
with

the options offered by existing programs?especially the cost.



?We wanted to do something,? he says.



He hooked up with a Wisconsin-based organization for a year. While
he

liked several aspects of that program, he felt he could create a

better, more user-friendly option on his own.



So in 1992 he and another organizer began MAYB. They set their
entry

fee at about half what other programs were charging, gave teams
more

freedom to play when and where they wanted to, and didn?t require
that

they travel to a national tournament.



Raleigh and his staff offer their expertise to all MAYB
tournaments,

but they hire area directors to actually run a specific event. The

Newton tournament is an exception.



?That?s sort of my baby,? Raleigh says.



In the MAYB format, teams play two 20-minute halves with a
continuous

clock and are guaranteed at least five games over a weekend.



?We run the clock, but you?re still on the court more than if you

played three games with the clock stopping,? Raleigh said. ?We
sell

them on the point that we want to get the kids out on the court

playing.?



The cost of the program is another selling point.



?We?re the most cost effective program out there,? Raleigh says.
?The

cost per game is under $4. That?s reasonable. Of course, that
doesn?t

factor in that some people are spending the night, and those kinds
of

things.?



He admits the program isn?t perfect. The size of the tournaments

requires teams to play on Sunday mornings. Also, officials work a
lot

of games over a weekend, and don?t always call them as tightly as

Raleigh asks.



He has considered making some adjustments, but has been outvoted
by

participating coaches.



?Every year we poll our people and try to do things in favor of
the

majority,? Raleigh says. And, he adds, officials won?t work

tournaments unless they?re guaranteed a lot of games.



In the end, finding enough qualified officials may force Raleigh
to

limit the size of the Newton tournament.



?We?ve got officials coming in from out of state this year to help

handle it,? he says.



Another major hurdle is finding enough motel space for the teams
who

travel here from a distance.



?Those two things will be what end up limiting us,? he says. ?If
the

quality suffers, then the size of the tournament will suffer and
it

will balance itself out.



?That?s what we tell our people,? he adds. ?If you run a good

tourna

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