NORTH ADAMS -- Al Giorgi's love for basketball is unmistakable. It's something he inherited from his father John and something he works hard to pass onto others.
His love for basketball is why he's been running the John Giorgi Summer Basketball League for more than 12 years. His father ran the league for 20-plus years. For his dedication, the courts at Noel Field are named after him, as is the league.
"The goal of the league is to get as many people as possible playing the game of basketball," Giorgi said. "I love this game. I want to give everyone I can a chance to play the game. Last year, we had close to 320 people playing. This year, it is down a bit, but it's still an impressive amount of people playing the game every night in a little community like ours."
For years, the league was restricted to just men's teams and all the teams played in one division. There is now a high school division as well as a women's division. In years past, the men's division was broken into an ‘A' and ‘B' division, but a slight decrease in numbers forced the men to have just one division this season.
This season the league featured 14 men's teams, six high school teams and four women's teams. Each team played eight games this season, but the schedule varies depending on the amount of teams in the league. Last season, more than 300 people participated in the league. Several men's and women's basketball players from both Williams and MCLA participate, as well as former lcoal high school players.
"I started playing in the league right out of college in 1986, and Al has just done a real nice job following in his dad's footsteps and growing the league," said Jack Racette, who is a member of the league's Hall of Fame and can be found at the courts watching most nights. "Al took the high school league in a few years ago and extended it to the women's league, which is just great for the city. It's great to get a lot of people out here playing basketball."
Each team consists of at least five players and some have up to 12 on the roster. Giorgi requires players to be in attendance for at least half the games to be elgible to play in the postseason. Each team is charged $600 to play. The fee covers the price to rent the courts from the city, new basketballs, trophies, officials fees, scorekeepers and anything else that is required to keep the league afloat.
The women's league was introduced in 2011 as a way to drive more interest in the game and give women a place to play summer basketball in North Adams.
In 2007, the high school league was introduced. Many high school coaches in the area had asked him to do this to help bring an organizational level to high school summer basketball. Al also thought it would help the men's league grow by getting players involved in the league early and wanting to continue to play.
"The kids do the work to get their teams together and it's a good place to start and play a little basketball," said Racette, who coaches the Drury High School boys' team in the winter. "Really, the league has a nice little nitch to it. You get a lot of good crowds down here for the games. You can come down and watch good basketball. You see players like [former Hoosac Valley star] Robbie Burke and others who played in the high school league and now come back and play in the men's league and really keep that tradition going on."
The league's tradition is exactly why Al Giorgi created the Hall of Fame a few years ago. The hall of fame has six members and 13 honory members. Three more members will be inducted during this week's championship games. Brett Steinman, Pete Heifer Chenail and Al Giorgi will be the additions to the Hall this year. The ceremony will be held inbetween the high school and men's championship games on Wednesday.
"It's about the history," Giorgi said. "Remembering the players that came through this league. I wanted the league to remember how good some of the guys were back then. And it's been a good way to get guys back and bring back old memories."