Birkett Mills means Basketball

Gary Pinneo
Penn Yan's James Willson, Chuck Roach and Ethan Kamholtz accept the runner-up trophy from Section V representative Jeff Gifford.

When Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Kansas back in the 19th century, he needed to find something to use for the basket part of the game to receive the ball. Because of their cone-shaped appearance (the ball wouldn't bounce out), he decided to use a peach basket. The first goals in the brand new game of basketball were peach baskets manufactured in Penn Yan, New York.  History buffs will tell you, Penn Yan had a thriving fruit basket manufacturing industry back then. Penn Yan also had a world famous buckwheat and grain mill named The Birkett Mills, to continue our local history lesson.

These baskets were soon replaced by the rim and net type that we are familiar with today. Evidently, it became a nuisance to climb up the step ladder to retrieve the ball after every basket. But wouldn't it have been nice to see the name Penn Yan stamped on every basketball goal in the world? Think of the publicity it would have created for our town!

But we do still have something that is Penn Yan based and whose name has become synonymous with area high school basketball. Our own industrial cornerstone — Birkett Mills.  The local mill, the foremost producer and supplier of buckwheat products in the world since 1797, is also an important sponsor and contributor for area youth sports in general and boy's high school basketball in particular. Since 1987, Birkett Mills has been the sole sponsor of the Coaches and Finalist Brunch held before the final rounds of the Section V Boy's Basketball classic. 

They also sponsor the Tom Downey Memorial Birkett Mills Coach of the Year Awards in all of the Section V classes. This brunch has developed into one of the  finest and classiest high school sports functions in the state. Birkett Mills has brought this special event to a new level in excellence and has added to the excitement and support area wide for the Section V Boy's Basketball tournament.

In an age where the marketing term "branding" or finding an identity is the catch phrase, Birkett Mills has certainly succeeded in developing a brand through high school basketball and has effectively helped promote Penn Yan with their positive actions. In a way, we do have our name stamped on every basket, at least in a local sense.

The Brunch features the 18 participating teams in the nine separate classifications and also the area media. The teams and coaches are introduced to the public and the match-ups are discussed. The event is an effective tipoff to an exciting weekend of championship high school basketball.  

The annual winners of the Tom Downey Memorial Birkett Mills Coach of the Year are announced at the brunch and introduced to the public. Adding to the local area excitement this year, both Penn Yan and Dundee had advanced to the finals in their classifications. Also, longtime Penn Yan Mustang Head Basketball Coach Chuck Roach was awarded the 2008 - 20099 Class B1 Coach of the Year Award.  It was a banner day for our local high school basketball teams. 

Birkett Mills long time sponsorship of these events comes as no surprise to us.  The Penn Yan area community is well aware of the dedication and support Birkett Mills has provided for youngsters in our area and the sports that they play.  Birkett Mills former president Wayne Wagner and President Jeff Gifford have both had a long and active relationship with area high school basketball in every aspect from promotion to coaching and officiating.    Their love of the game and the kids is very apparent. Birkett Mills is not only a strong supporter of Section V Boy's High School Basketball, but also generously supports other sports and activities.   

They have been a long time sponsor for the various youth programs in the Penn Yan area. Birkett Mills has been a staunch contributor to the fine quality of life issues that makes Penn Yan and the area a nice to place to live. 

Section V is so thankful for Birkett Mills' longtime and constant support, they elected the company and their representatives, Wayne Wagner and Jeff Gifford to the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame, contributor division in 2006. A well deserved honor indeed.

Certainly, Section V Basketball and the name Birkett Mills are well connected. If you don't believe this, check out any television highlight of any Section V Basketball event. The Birkett Mills logo is prominently displayed everywhere. 

Dr. Naismith gave us our start in the sport with his use of our baskets.  But the Birkett Mills has certainly brought the collective ball into the front court.  Certainly, for Birkett Mills and Penn Yan, "branding" at it's best. 

In a way, at least in a limited sense, the name Penn Yan is still stamped on every basket. 

Congratulations and thank you Wayne, Jeff, and Birkett Mills.

Coach of the Year in Class B1, Penn Yan's Chuck Roach with Wayne Wagner.