The Frank West tournament is held annually by the Massena Basketball Association and the players of the Travel League. Information about the upcoming season’s Frank West tournament will be posted as it becomes available. To learn about the origins of the Frank West tournament, you can read more below…
The Story of Frank West
Frank West was born in Seattle, Washington. At a very young age he moved to Syracuse, N.Y. and eventually to Massena where he was raised and attended Massena Central Schools. Frank was an excellent athlete, as evidenced by his four years of football and track. Frank also had another sport he was interested in- and that was basketball. Unfortunately, Frank didn’t excel in basketball as he did in football and track, but all he ever wanted was “to be part of a team”. Massena coach Jerry Welsh, saw the desire in this young man and gave him a chance. Frank made the 1964-1965 Massena varsity team as a senior but didn’t see much playing time. The Massena team had a lot of talent including Frank’s younger brother Donnie. Frank worked hard and didn’t complain about practice, playing time, or lack of recognition. He “just wanted to be a part of the team”. In the words of Coach Welsh, “Frank was the ultimate team player. Although he didn’t have great skills, he always gave a great effort – whether at a practice or a game. Frank was the type of player a coach always wanted to be around.”
Frank graduated in 1965, worked in Massena, married Phyllis Guthrie and started raising a family. They had two sons and two daughters. As Frank’s children got older and showed interest in basketball, Frank wanted to get involved in coaching…he again “just wanted to be part of a team”.
Frank initially coached a 3rd & 4th grade boy’s house league team in the early 1980’s. As his son DJ got to the 7th & 8th grade level, Frank wanted to extend the season. Frank enjoyed the kids and loved coaching so he put together a team to travel out of town for games. Frank packed the kids in his old burgundy colored van and off they’d go to places like Parishville, Waddington and anywhere he could find a game. Frank’s teams didn’t win all their games, but that didn’t bother his players. They didn’t worry about playing time, or complain about hard practices, or worry about how many points they scored. They were “just happy to be a part of the team”.
Frank made it fun and taught them many new skills. He made sure they enjoyed their victories and accepted their defeats as a team. Frank never let his players go without. If they needed a ride, Frank gave them a ride. If they needed food, Frank bought them lunch. One story told about Frank was that one player couldn’t play because his parents could not afford sneakers, Frank bought his sneakers. He wanted that player to be part of the team.
Unfortunately for Massena, Frank and his family were transferred to Indiana with General Motors. Frank continued to follow basketball and truly enjoyed his family until his untimely death from cancer.
In 1990, the year following his death, the Massena Biddy Basketball Association felt that the ideals that Frank stood for as a player, father, husband and coach was the best example of what we felt sports and especially the game of basketball represented. He is still a big part of our team and that is why we honor his legacy by naming this tournament after him.