Colman-Egan's Athletics Director and head basketball coach Brant Deutsch looks on as he referees one of the Summer League games going on in the old Colman-Egan gymnasium. Deutsch, along with Tim Sweeney, Rex Groos and Jay Groos volunteered their time to referee all eight games that night.
For three years now Brant Deutsch, the Colman-Egan head basketball coach, has held a summer league inside the two CE gymnasiums for hundreds of area kids to not only hone their skills as athletes but to keep kids active and share in his love for the game.
Deutsch, who was recently named the new Athletic Director at Colman-Egan, along with several volunteers over the years, have been going to the gym every Tuesday night for three years to play a little basketball.
“I was told in the past about a league they used to have in Colman and how much people enjoyed it so I wanted to bring it back,” Deutsch mentioned.
The league is open to any kid from sixth grade to ninth grade. The first 32 kids that sign up for each grade level get a spot on a team, a spot that has gotten harder to get. “The league fills up fast, and I try to find a place for everyone, but every year I have to turn someone away.”
It also does not matter if you are from Colman, Egan, Flandreau, Baltic, or Sioux Falls, no matter where you reside, you are welcome to the Colman-Egan School Gym. “It helps improve the level of basketball not only in here, but the surrounding communities as well.”
They have averaged about 100 students every year with some kids playing in the league all three years. “It is incredible to see how much they have improved from summer to summer,” Deutsch recalled.
Of course Deutsch can not coach over 100 kids, ref the games, keep score, give instruction and organize the league by himself, that is where the volunteers come in.
“The entire summer league would not be able to happen if I did not have people around who were willing and able to help out,” Deutsch was quick to point out. “Most of these people give up four hours every Tuesday, just because they enjoy basketball,” he added.
This year there are four coaches; each coach has two teams, one for each grade division. Each game has two referees and a scorekeeper; that makes 10 volunteers per night, all willing to give up a night of their week to teach and enjoy the game they love.
“I cannot say enough about these guys, if it were not for them, the league would have folded after the first year,” he said. “They do way more than anyone gives them credit for.”
“The league is for the kids but it also helps out my high school team and local graduates who are thinking about going into teaching or coaching. It gives them a chance to display their skills and really find out what it takes to be a coach,” said Deutsch.
The league is also a great way for kids to compete with and against their future foes – a chance to see what they might be up against – and a chance to make some new friends.
With summer usually being a pretty busy time of the year for kids, whether it is playing baseball, traveling, or going to camps for their respective sports, Deutsch knew that these ages, on this night was a perfect fit.
“I wanted to give athletes a chance to get on the floor every week without either having to spend a lot of money or traveling the Midwest to play games. We try to match teams up the best we can so each week the games come down to the final seconds.” They did a good job of doing just that; last week two games were decided in overtime.
This year’s league has now wrapped up with the final buzzer of last week’s games but you could tell that the kids were already excited to play in the league again next year, but same could be said for the Deutsch, the coaches, the refs, the scorekeepers and the parents, everyone seemed a bit sad when the scoreboards were turned off, the balls were put away, and the doors were locked shut. Luckily for them, thanks to the dedication of Deutsch and the countless volunteers, those doors will be open again next summer.