Dana Labbee Sr. said his son was always looking for people to play basketball with during the summer.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Dana Labbee Summer Basketball League broke ground on a new basketball court at Renfrew Field on Monday morning.
The league, named in honor of Hoosac Valley athlete and honor student Dana Labbee, who died in a 2010 car crash, has grown from 80 participants since its inception in 2010 to more than 200 expected this summer. To handle to growth, the league received donations to build an additional court at the town field.
"This is really an amazing day for Adams. I know that sounds kind of political but this is truly a terrific day for Adams, not just the kids in Adams but for the whole town," Peter West, speaking for the league, said. "It means expanding our town. It means making our town a truly great place to live."
The court is being constructed through donations, particularly from Adams Excavation and Lane Construction, and will allow the program to continue to expand. Monday's ceremony featured league President Gregory Charon, town officials, the sponsors and Labbee's father, Dana Labbee Sr.
"My son was always an outgoing kid and he loved basketball," Labbee said. "They're out here all the time and my son was the same way. He was always looking for someone to play pickup basketball. He would have been right out here with everyone else if he was here today."
Labbee said he wanted to hold a small benefit after his son died, such as a three-on-three tournament but Charon, a police officer and coach, took it one step further and began the league.
Ronald Herzig of Lane Construction, left, Dana Labbee Sr., Gregory Charon, Jonathan Butler, Paul Dellaghelfa from Adams Excavating and Selectmen Chairman Arthur 'Skip' Harrington.
"Prior to Dana's death, I watched him grow from an infant to a young man. I was always impressed by his positive attitude to others and he was presented in a mature way," Charon said. "I had the pleasure to coach him for four years ... He never gave up and always turned a negative situation into a positive one. I wanted to pass that on to other children in our community through the game of basketball."
Almost immediately, the league started to outgrow the courts at Renfrew so officials began eyeing additional space for courts and the donations came quickly. From the Maple Grove Civic Club to The Grille to the Freemasons — on top of the major donations from Adams Excavating and Lane — the new court "came together quickly."
"This is an old-fashioned barn raising," West said.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler applauded the donors and league officials who made the new court and league possible and said community coming together is what defines Adams.
"The No. 1 thing that we are is a community. Everything that we're going to do is on the strength of all the different people, all the different stakeholders, making this place a better community. I don't think there are a lot of examples that are better than this league right here," Butler said. "Building this court, there will be that much more vibrancy and energy down here at Renfrew Park."
While the court is now under construction, league officials say they are still raising money for the hoops.
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