Needs arise commonly in rural communities. Often gaps in service or activities leaves residents wanting or driving great distances, but in Granite Falls the outlook is clear, “if we need it, we will build it.” The most recent example of this Granite gumption was the formation of Yellow Medicine East’s first Three on Three Basketball League. Ryan Luft and other parents found themselves driving great distances so their children could play basketball in three on three basketball leagues in far off regions of the state due to the absence of such a league near home. The result was YME Principle Luft joining forces with Ryan Schultz, and other active parents, to form the first league of this style in Granite Falls.
The result was overwhelming, “We had 46 teams, at least 3-5 kids on each team, we didn’t expect it” said Schultz. The league was was not restricted to YME students, it was open to any rural youngster, 4th grade through 12th grade, who came with a team. Young basketball players came from as far as Sleepy Eye, Russell, Tyler, Ruthton, and Lower Sioux communities to play a total of ten games over the course of five weeks, bringing parents and spectators from far away regions to spend Sundays in Granite Falls. When asked if this will be a continuing program, Shultz answered with a resounding “definitely” adding, “next Fall there will be a new completed gym in place allowing for the program to expand and allow for even more teams”.
Shultz stated “It went really well, I think the word will spread and we will get more teams for sure”. When it comes to the word spreading on this program, the record is already proven. For this initial season the league created a simple Facebook page and Instagram account to spread the word of mouth seeking teams and the return was approximately 200 eager young players ready to start. “Kids are just all over Instagram, so it just kind of got shared and spread,” said Schultz.
The program cost $60 per team with all proceeds going to the YME Girls and Boys Basketball programs, minus the cost for three on three referee pay. The YME Parent Teacher Organization hosted a concession stand also, making the overall league and its counterparts a solid fundraiser for the district.