“This is our biggest basketball weekend of the year!” Mike Bedrosian exclaimed as he kept an eye on three games being played simultaneously Sunday inside the jam-packed Johnston Indoor Recreation Center on Atwood Avenue. “It’s three long days but its fun; I love doing this!”
Bedrosian, you see, has been part been of a unique Johnston basketball tradition that’s been around almost as long as the now 27-year-old teacher-coach and 2010 JHS grad has been part of the local hoop scene that once-a-year transforms the town into the “Basketball Capital of the State.”
“By the time we finish here today,” Bedrosian said while updating the unique computer program known as Tourney Machine, which provides parents, team officials and even fans with up-to-date game reports featuring everything from schedules to game winners in various divisions and more, “we will have hosted 94 games in three days!”
It’s all part of what Bedrosian further explained is part of the Rhode Island Youth Basketball Association which is made up of 30 different organizations around the state and affords each member to host its own tournament every year.
Last weekend’s three-day basketball bonanza, which tipped off Friday night and concluded Sunday, featured upwards of 700 players who represented 73 teams from all parts of the state and represented various recreation departments and other youth agencies whose players were in grades four through nine.
The Johnston Recreation Department, for example, sent five boys squads into action and had five girls teams whose players teamed with basketball upstarts on a co-op team featuring girls from nearby Scituate.
For Bedrosian and Patty DiMascio, who serves director of the highly-popular and spacious Johnston Indoor Recreation Center, the town was almost overflowing with basketball buffs who watched games that were also played at JHS’ Edward L. DiSimone Gymnasium and Nicholas A. Ferri Middle School.
While Bedrosian serves as Tournament Director, a post he’s held for six years and counting, DiMascio – he said with an appreciative smile on his face – “did everything for everybody this weekend; she even made sure the concession stand was up and running all the time.”
Thus Bedrosian – who has been working the tourney since he was age 14 and now is a health and physical education teacher at Del Sesto Middle School in Providence offered, “This tournament brings a lot of people into town; more than ever since we’ve had the benefit of our Indoor (Recreation) Center.”
It used to be, he remembered, tourney games were played at JHS and Ferri Middle School as well as the ageless Rainone Gym that’s located in the Frog City section of Johnston.
“This is a special time for all basketball people in the state,” Bedrosian, who played under Steve DeMeo during his undergraduate days on Cherry Hill, went on. “This building continues to be a huge benefit for the town; just look around at how many people are in this great facility.”
So for three days – from approximately 7 a.m. until late into the evening – three facilities in Johnston were booming as the town became the state’s basketball Mecca and showcased boys and girls in grades four to nine who someday may become marquee players at the high school varsity and collegiate levels.
“Sure the days are long,” Bedrosian admitted while making sure each team coach has the correct number of tournament T-shirts and updating his Tourney Machine program. “But I love it; it’s always a special time that last weekend thrust Johnston into the basketball spotlight of the state.”
When asked what’s next on the hoop slate, Bedrosian said with a smile, “Gotta get back to my team’s practices; we’ve got a busy schedule coming up!”
Bedorsian, you see, not only works for the Johnston Parks and Recreation Department and credits Director Dan Mazzulla with being in his current capacity, is also the head boys’ basketball coach of the Ferri Middle School Jaguars.