KING — West Stokes High School is hosting the inaugural Northwest Alumni Basketball Tournament next week.
In the first of what organizers hope is a long history of tournaments, past players from Surry and Stokes counties will join together with their old teammates for a day-long celebration of local basketball on Dec. 29.
Groups of former players from Mount Airy, North Surry, Surry Central and West Stokes already have signed up to participate.
If alumni from East Surry, North Stokes and South Stokes join into the mix, the tournament could be extended to a two-day event, noted organizer Kevin Spainhour. The former Mount Airy basketball coach is now the assistant principal at West Stokes, where his brother Dan is the basketball coach of the Wildcats.
“We believe memories are life’s treasures,” Spainhour wrote on a website (www.glorydayshoops.com) to announce the event. “We offer former basketball players the chance to relive those memories while representing their community, school and family.”
Lots of men play pickup games at the park or in recreational leagues at Reeves Community Center and the Stokes Family YMCA, he noted. But, these games are relaxed, informal. Guys call their own fouls.
There is something about playing for one’s school and classmates that builds a sense of pride, he said. That’s a feeling he hopes comes back for participants as they once more play as Granite Bears, Greyhounds, Golden Eagles and Wildcats.
Real high school officials will call the games by the book, and there will be a game clock and scorekeepers to make it feel as authentic as possible.
“We believe in the brotherhood that high school basketball programs create,” said Spainhour. “We believe the competitive spirit never dies.”
Surry Central has an annual alumni basketball game where past graduates play against current players. Mount Airy has held similar games over the years, but this one goes beyond that, according to Spainhour.
The former coach said the idea came about while talking to another coach over the summer.
While at Mount Airy, Spainhour led the summer Foothills Basketball Camp for kids. As part of giving back to the community, many former players returned to help teach the children.
“It was always good to see them again,” he said. “Coaching is so much more about relationships than anything else. For me, that was one of my favorite things — to reunite and connect with former players over the summers.”
Spainhour said he was talking about this very thing with Josh Thompson, now in his eighth season as the Bishop McGuinness coach. Thompson, too, had been reconnecting with former players at camp.
Spainhour asked, “Wouldn’t it be something to relive some of those great Mount Airy/Bishop games again?”
Kevin’s wife Laura asked about playing games like that with lots of local teams.
North Surry graduate T.C. Gammons jumped at the idea and began contacting his former teammates from the 2006-07 season.
Pretty much the whole roster from that season will take part in the alumni tournament: Gammons, Kent Brown, Tanner Easter, Theo Jones, Jordan Haynes, Garrett Howlett, Cameron Moore, Stephen Simmons and Brandon West.
Another Greyhound pal would like to take part, but Lee Martin is busy playing college ball for the Catawba Indians.
“This is a good opportunity to get everybody together again,” said Gammons. They can relive the glory days and have some fun.
This event should have four really good teams lined up, said Spainhour. The games should be very competitive.
He noted that Jared Moxley, who is heading up the West Stokes team, already has organized practices.
Tyler Bentley, who is helping coach Mount Airy’s JV team, is taking a role in organizing the Bears’ alumni team. The 2008 graduate has eight or nine guys lined up, including Robby Reeves and Dylan Bobbitt, Spainhour noted.
Drew and Tanner Joyce are brothers who never got to play together because of their age difference, but they’ll be competing side by side in this event, the former coach said.
With social media like Facebook and Twitter, it is easier than ever before to reach out to friends, noted Spainhour. Still, that is nothing like getting together in person and reliving the past.
Each of the teams will play at least three games in a round-robin format. For friends and family who wish to attend, the admission is $5 per person for the whole day. Concessions will be available for purchase like a regular home game, and a hospitality room will be provided for players so they can rest and snack between games.
The registration deadline is Friday, so there is still time for other schools to join in. The fee per team is $250, so for a 10-man squad that would be just $25 each and includes a reversible Glory Days jersey.
Spainhour thinks this tourney could grow and become an annual Christmas holiday tradition. He envisions a time when enough players want to take part that the games can be broken down into decades like the 1990s Bears taking on the 1990s Greyhounds.
Those interested in participating can contact Kevin Spainhour at firstname.lastname@example.org.