NORTHAMPTON—League Legends, a nonprofit founded by graduates of Northampton High School to honor their late classmates David Holman and Miles Adams, has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 for the construction of two lighted and side-by-side community basketball courts in the city as well as an adjacent memorial.
Michael O’Brien, president of the nonprofit and a member of the NHS class of 2007, said the goal is to raise the funds over the next several years through donations as well as a variety of events, including the already existing annual basketball tournament, called the League Legends Midsummer Classic.
This year’s tournament will be held July 23 at Robert K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School from 1 to 8 p.m., with an outdoor screening of “Space Jam” to follow at 8:30 p.m. Other fundraising events this year include a golf tournament on Oct. 1 at the Northampton Country Club and a trivia night and silent auction slated for Nov. 26 at The World War II Club.
O’Brien said League Legends aims to create a space where children and teens can enjoy playing basketball day and night, and he intends for the courts to be lighted to facilitate nighttime play. League Legends is currently working with the Northampton Recreation Department to locate a site for the courts.
The proposed courts will also be used for both summer adult basketball leagues as well as youth basketball clinics, at an affordable cost, O’Brien said. Long-term, the courts may also host such events as out-of-season invitational tournaments or other community events.
“The venue could even be used as an outdoor skating rink in the winters,” O’Brien said, adding, “We’re not going to build it and simply hope people come. We’re going to be organizing a lot of its use.”
As of this week, the organization had roughly $8,000 set aside for the courts, which will be developed in stages, O’Brien said.
Sam Caruso, a 2007 NHS graduate and a member of the League Legends Board of Directors with O’Brien, said building basketball courts in Northampton would allow the friends and family of Holman and Adams to have something physical to memorialize them.
“The courts would also be a source of enjoyment for hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who love basketball as much as David and Miles once did,” he said.
League Legends has its roots in a pick-up basketball league, then called The League, that Holman started by passing around a roster in an audio-visual class in 2006. Adams was also a member of that original league.
“David was the original commissioner who passed around the sign-up sheet and got the league going,” O’Brien said. “From there, we started having at least several weeknight pick-up basketball games at Ryan Road elementary. We would even do trades and suspensions within the teams, and hold meetings in AV class.”
The League returned and attracted even more attention, both from players and spectators, in 2007. That summer, Holman was killed in a car accident. Just a few months later, in December, Adams was also involved in a traffic fatality.
“Anyone dying at that age is such a tragedy,” O’Brien said. “For a lot of us, the organizers and kids around the high school, that was our first experience with death, and it was really a shock.”
As a way of honoring their classmates, Caruso and fellow league participant Tim Kane organized the nonprofit in 2008, named it League Legends and the organization held its first midsummer classic at Ryan Road.
The tournament began with six teams and raised $200 in its first year. It has expanded to attract 16 teams, and it now traditionally raises roughly $10,000 per year. It also attracts professional players, such as NHS alum Ellis Cooper of England’s Manchester Magic, who played in 2015.
“Miles and David’s families both started scholarship funds soon after they passed, and it was actually my mom who suggested doing a basketball tournament at Ryan Road Elementary to raise money for their scholarship funds and to remember our friends,” Caruso said, noting that the tournament helps fund the scholarship.
Going forward, the tournament will also help fund the goal to build the basketball courts.
Caruso remembers Holman and Adams first and foremost for their incredible sense of humor.
“They were both so funny, although in different ways,” he said. “Miles was always goofing around. It was as if he lived to make his friends smile. And David was a real people person. He would always be bringing people together. Sometimes it seemed like he was friends with almost everyone.”
This year’s July 23 Movie Night will be held in partnership with Northampton Community Television and the League Legends board, members of which are: O’Brien, Caruso, Kane, Elias NeJame and Nicole Sawula.
To register for the tournament, contact O’Brien at 413-210-8823 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost of the film screening is $10 per car.
League Legends has applied for 501C3 status so that donations to it can be tax deductible; it currently holds tax-exempt status in Massachusetts. The organization has a multi-tiered donation plan. For details, or to donate, visit the League Legends website at www.areyoualegend.org, or mail contributions to 70 Acrebrook Drive in Florence.