If you have March Madness fever, you should know that the YMCA invented the Game of Basketball

Wilmington, Delaware – 124 years ago, in 1891, a YMCA program director named Luther Gulick asked James Naismith, a gym teacher at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, to invent a new indoor sport. Gulick wanted an activity to keep Y directors fit and limber during the winter   months. After much trial and error, Naismith decided to hang two peach baskets from the bottom of an elevated running track, posted a list of 13 simple rules, and basketball was born. The game quickly gained popularity nationwide. The first official rules were published in January 1892, and the rest is hoop history.

Today, James Naismith would be amazed at what his “simple” game has become. Thanks to his imagination, terms like “March Madness,” and “Final Four” are part of America’s collective vocabulary. “Basketball is such a great and enduring sport for kids and adults,” said Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Delaware.In addition to the physical skills one must practice, the game doesn’t work without learning the values of good sportsmanship and teamwork.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Olympic track star Jesse Owens and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, all honed their athletic skills and built the foundations of friendship respect, teamwork and cooperation on YMCA basketball courts. Naismith’s legacy lives on, with every NCAA tournament and at local YMCAs everywhere. “We’re proud to have started a tradition that has had such a lasting impact on people’s lives,” Bagatta-Bowles said. “Today’s young players at our Y may well be tomorrow’s champions – a wonderful testament to James Naismith, his imagination and the YMCA.”

The YMCA of Delaware is Delaware’s largest non-profit organization committed to strengthening   the citizens of Delaware through youth development,   healthy living and social responsibility. With (7) seven branches statewide and an overnight camp and conference center in Worton, Maryland, the Y has developed long-standing relationships and a physical presence in Delaware so they can deliver lasting personal and social change. We are committed to serving everyone – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of every child and teen, improve Delaware’s health and wellbeing and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.


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Our Mission


The YMCA is an association of people of all ages, ethnic groups and religious affiliations that strives to cultivate the human potential, self-esteem, and dignity of all people. Our organization exists to develop and practice the Christian principles of love, caring, inclusiveness, justice and peace…and to enrich the emotional, physical and social life of all individuals, families and our community.