Erie, PA – James Naismith in 1892 invented the game of basketball at a Y in Springfield, MA; hazy records indicate the game first reached Erie in 1896 when the Erie Y played Allegheny College. This experimental beginning was the seed of one of the great chapters of Erie sport history.

The YMCA of Greater Erie will return its youth basketball program to the game’s roots as part of its 160th anniversary year (August 2020-August 2021) by expanding its popular P.L.A.Y. youth co-ed competitive basketball league and sunsetting the Y’s traditional youth basketball format.

“Naismith’s instructions were to invent a game which would be interesting, easy to learn, could be played indoors and would not have body contact and roughness,” said Monica Olesnanik, associate executive director for the YMCA of Greater Erie. “The first props included the famous peach baskets, ten feet above the floor, and a soccer ball.”

Olesnanik goes on to explain that the P.L.A.Y. Basketball League still emphasizes the Y’s core character values and developmental approach but provides for a level of healthy competition in a safe and fun environment. “Participate and Learn at the YMCA – that’s at the core of the P.L.A.Y. league.  At the Y, one differentiating factor to our approach to healthy competition is our values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.”

P.L.A.Y. is for kids in grades K-4 and registration is open for individuals as well as local school teams. Games and practices will be held at all three Erie Y locations: Downtown, Eastside and Glenwood. Y membership is not required.

“This league also provides for a safe way to travel locally and compete against different teams as games will rotate local locations and the championships will be held at a special local venue,” said Olesnanik. “Travel sports teams are tough right now because of the COVID environment.  P.L.A.Y. provides the structure for local competition and travel within our own community.”

To register and review our game plan for returning to safe play, visit

For more information contact Monica Olesnanik at [email protected], 452-3261 or Selena Foulk at [email protected] or 868-0867.



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