Back on the court
Last year, Dunkirk resident Doug Lockett took it upon himself to give the men in the local area something they hadn’t had in quite a while – an organized basketball league.
This year, now under the direction of Recreation Program Coordinator Tim Gornikiewicz, the Dunkirk Men’s City Basketball League is thriving. There are 18 teams comprised of over 200 players that compete on Saturday mornings at Dunkirk Senior High School and Monday and Tuesday nights at the Dunkirk Middle School.
“Last year, they had a league,” Gornikiewicz said. “Doug Lockett kind of started a league and I give him a lot of credit for getting it going. It needed some structure though, so the city took it over with our insurance and everything like that.
“It was easier for us to take it over as compared to (Lockett), a private person taking it over,” Gornikiewicz said. “He helped with a lot of players and teams and getting in contact with them.”
Gornikiewicz noted, however, that it took a bit longer than he hoped for word to get out and teams to sign up.
“At first, it was slow, but as we got closer to game time, we got a lot of calls,” Gornikiewicz said. “At one point we actually had 20 teams, but two dropped out and combined. So we ended up with 18 teams.”
He was surprised though with the amount of interest the league did end up receiving.
Going back to the heyday of city (recreation) sports – in the (1970’s) and 80’s – you probably had about 20 teams,” he noted. “So I was excited, obviously, to have 18 teams. There’s over 200 players playing between the teams, which is great.”
Competitively speaking, like any league, there are the good teams and bad teams, but overall, Gornikiewicz has been pleased with what he’s seen thus far.
“Somebody’s got to be in last place in (A League),” Gornikiewicz said. “You can argue that they should be in (B League), but somebody’s got to be in last place. There’s some good players and there’s some good teams. Jamestown’s got a team full of all-stars and there’s a couple of teams from the reservation that have some potential all-stars on them. And some of the B teams, I think they come out just to get a little recreation and run around a bit.
“But I think it’s fairly even,” Gornikiewicz continued. “Maybe next year it will be a little more balanced. Maybe 10 (A League teams) and eight (B League teams). For the most part, it’s good competition.”
In any competition, however, there is a chance that tempers will flare, words will be said and punches may be thrown. But for the most part, Gornikiewicz has noted only minor issues.
“You’ll get a few complaints here and there,” Gornikiewicz said. “A few referee complaints, but that’s in every sport and that’s been going of forever here. The one thing I obviously really don’t want to see is fighting. Everybody is going to complain about the referees, but fighting-wise, there’s been no altercations. You get a little bit of trash talking, but it’s all been fun though.”
Moving forward, Gornikiewicz hopes the league and the relationship it has with the Dunkirk City School District will continue.
“The school’s been great letting us use their facilities,” Gornikiewicz said. “And it’s a good problem to have, a lack of gym space, because that means you have a lot of teams. That’s something that we can work on.
“There’s really no other gym around,” Gornikiewicz continued. “The Boys and Girls Club has a gym, but it’s small. The Salvation Army has a gym, but it’s too small to play. But here, it’s great. We’ve got scoreboards to use, the fans can come watch and it works out real well.”
For years, the men living in the local area could always count on Dunkirk’s Recreation Department to offer a basketball league in the winter or spring and if nothing else, Gornikiewicz wants that to be able to continue.
“I’m hoping,” he said. “The one thing I wanted to do this year was keep good stats and post them on the website. And we’ve been looking at having an all-star game. And I think when you add those things into it, the players and teams get a little more excited and it gives (the league) a little more credibility.
“You want to run it well so they come back,” Gornikiewicz concluded. “I don’t think there’s another league around here like this.”
For more information on the league, or to view standings and statistics, visit www.dunkirktoday.com/city-offices/youth-and-rec/recreation-department/2014-mens-basketball