Brotherhood Tournament -
History - The First 50 Years

Originally conceived as an ecumenical movement by its founders (Weldon Haire, George Dixon, and Robert O'Brien), the Chelmsford Brotherhood has broadened through the years to include all CYBL registrants above the Mite Division, plus the High School Division. The philosophy of the Brotherhood is to expound brother - sisterhood within the Town of Chelmsford under the leadership of the CYBL. The Brotherhood Basketball Tournament follows the CYBL regular season.

During recent years, ecumenism has been greatly emphasized in religious circles. For many more years, fraternal organizations have expounded the concept of working for some common cause with the communities within their boundaries. These associations promotes a kinsmanship philosophy that readily displays kindness and affection toward their members through sisterhood / brotherhood.

The original founders Weldon M. Haire, George Dixon and Robert O'Brien had that quality of leadership that propagated the development of brother-sisterhood principles through their trust in the leadership that followed their departure. (The late Weldon M. Haire, a well known community leader and sportswriter for local newspapers, was widely known as the voice of the Boston Bruins.)

A brief chronological history of the Brotherhood Tournament:

1955:
The 1st Annual Brotherhood included a High School Division, Junior High Division and the Grammar School Division for both boys and girls. The Knights of Columbus sponsored a town program for what was equivalent to the present CYBL Cadet and Junior Divisions for boys, while the YMCA had some games operating here as well as in Lowell, for boys and girls. The nucleus for the original Brotherhood Tournament included both of these locally involved groups as well as CYO teams from St. John's and St. Mary's. Everyone, whether members of these organization or not, was allowed to play in the early years of the Brotherhood Tournaments. The founders placed non-rostered registrants on existing tearns, where needed, and formed entire teams, when possible.

1956 - 1967:
Some of the founders passed their leadership roles on to others. Some of those leaders included Fran Teague, Rev. Harry Foster, Bill Miller and Ralph Jenkins. George Dixon remained on this committee the longest of the founders for the purpose of assuring a smooth transition. Flexibility prevailed as regards to the adult divisions. If 4 or more teams registered a division was included, both male and female.

1968 - 1970:
Chelmsford (Boys) Church League entered into expanded Brotherhood Tournament. Registration fees were the responsibility of Church sponsors. Strict rules that participants had to be members of local church sponsoring teams were initiated. Churches not registering for the tourney could not have their members play for any team that year. The emphasis was to have sponsors work toward promoting greater interest in Brotherhood Tourney participation.

1971 - 1976:
As the flourishing Brotherhood Tourney expanded it included girls' Chelmsford Church League teams, CYO teams, and non-residents belonging to sponsoring Church teams. The Brotherhood Tournament Committee worked cooperatively with the organized programs, especially the Chelmsford Church League, to promote the inclusion of non-church affiliated registrants. Much discussion took place during these years, especially by the Chelmsford Church League, concerning establishing "pool" players and how they might be assigned to existing teams. This continuing dialogue brought about change.

1977 - 1982:
With "pool" players finally agreed upon, and with the Church League's start of a gradual turn-over from church-sponsored teams to town-wide programs, the Brotherhood Tournament Committee was again able to service the entire Brotherhood Community. This strong effort and devotion by the proponents resulted in the present CYBL structure.

1982 - 1985:
With the completion of the town-wide concept by the local league, the Brotherhood Committee was able to allow rostered teams, however qualified, to be supplemented by "pool" players. The committee expanded, in 1984, from 3 members to 5 members. In 1985, the committee's dialogue with the CYBL resulted in a compromise that raised the membership to 8 but, more importantly, opened the door to future considerations for an umbrella-like arrangement that will help assure the continuation and success of the entire BROTHERHOOD concept initiated by the founders of the BROTHERHOOD TOURNAMENT COMMITTEE.

1986 - Present:
The Chelmsford Youth Basketball League (CYBL) now promotes and operates the tournament as part of the league operations.


NOTE: This historical information was researched through the collective recollection, files and reports of George Dixon, Bob O'Brien, Rev. Harry Foster, Ralph Jenkins, Bill Miller, George Greenman, and the Chelmsford Newsweekly.