Red River Hoops: Developing Athletes and Future Leaders

October 20, 2022

The mission of Red River Hoops is teaching, developing, managing, organizing, and offering youth basketball players the opportunity to learn fundamental skills.

Red River Hoops Association is a non-profit in Windom, Texas, born out of Michael Granstaff’s love of sports and coaching kids.

“I’m fairly well known in the community,” Granstaff says. “I’ve lived here since 1979, and before coaching, I was a well-known hunter that produced outdoor hunting films. I left that behind to focus on Red River Hoops, which is my calling.”

The mission of Red River Hoops is to teach, develop, manage, organize, and offer youth basketball players the opportunity to learn fundamental skills. 

The fundamental skills of the mission statement is the key to understanding Granstaff’s calling. “You bet we teach basketball,” he says, “and we help kids reach high levels of skill in the game, ultimately leading to scholarships at colleges for the kids who want them. 

“Basketball isn’t all we do. We bring kids in with basketball, but we also teach them life skills like teamwork, leadership, and being a good member of the community. We build character, and in doing so, we help build leaders of tomorrow.”

Granstaff admits the organization has big goals. “We have had challenges, but we’re open to everyone. We get great support from the community, and when people see the young men and women we turn out, the results speak for themselves.”

Basketball and Scholarships

Red River Hoops offers leagues and clinics for kids from 25 schools and draws from a more than 30-mile area.

“Schools can offer their kids basketball during traditional seasons, but for the kids that want to do better and are seeking a scholarship, that’s where we excel.”

Granstaff says that from 2017 to 2019, Red River Hoops had nine student-athletes sign with universities, offering them scholarships. 

Kenneth Karl and Angel’s Basketball

In addition to helping kids achieve their dreams of playing basketball at a high level, Red River Hoops is, as Granstaff says, “open to everyone,” and part of that is offering Angel’s Basketball to kids with special needs. 

Kenneth Karl is a Justice of the Peace in Fannin County, Texas, and a Red River Hoops parent.

His daughter has Down Syndrome and he volunteers as a coach. Granstaff says, “Kenneth Karl works hard, if not harder than the rest of our team. We couldn’t do what we do without him. He coaches and helps us put on events. He’s a community-minded man who likes to give back.”

Helping At-Risk Kids

“Not every kid has the same path through life,” Granstaff says, “and those kids deserve a chance to succeed like every other kid.”

Because he feels called to help kids, Granstaff decided that Red River Hoops would meet kids where they are, and help to build them into leaders.

“There is a school in Paris, Texas, called The Travis School. The Travis School is for kids on a rougher path,” he says. “They may have gotten themselves into trouble or had behavioral problems, or maybe issues at home. We wanted those kids to have the same chance as others, and so I offered to help.”

Granstaff had already been working with the probation office to help mentor kids, and in a partnership with school counselors, they created a “Basketball Contract” for the Travis kids to play basketball.

It has provisions like showing up to school, behaving, being respectful, and doing their schoolwork.

Granstaff says the program was a massive success. “When kids got into trouble at school for minor things, the school agreed punishment would be dealt with at basketball practice, and, you know what, it worked. We made them run laps, do exercises, and stuff like that, and it was more effective than a typical punishment at school. The kids wanted to be part of a team, and that means being a student and a good citizen.”

School attendance for the basketball players went up, participation in schoolwork went up, and the program was so successful other high schools added Travis to their school basketball schedules. Travis began playing basketball with the other schools, and their kids were on a brighter path.

Heroes Classic Basketball Tournament

In addition to all the work Granstaff does, every year Red River Hoops puts on the Heroes Classic Basketball Tournament, featuring teams from police and fire departments facing off for a good cause. 

“Law enforcement have been supporters of our program, and they have a funny side,” Granstaff says. 

Building Leaders

With all their basketball clinics, teams, and Angel’s basketball, Granstaff readily admits he can’t do it all alone. 

“My daughter, Paige Granstaff, and Jonathan Wilder are both fantastic coaches that volunteer a lot of time with us and coach K-12,” he says.

Paige Granstaff is a basketball star in her own right, holding the leading position in scoring and steals for boys and girls in Fannin County. She earned a basketball scholarship to Cowley College in Kansas.

“We really are lucky to have Jonathan, Paige and Karl. We couldn’t succeed without them,” Granstaff says.

Granstaff says one of the great joys as a coach is when high school players he coached come back to help coach the “little dribblers” league.

“It leaves me speechless, and is so special,” Granstaff says. “We get these high school juniors and seniors that come and teach our little kids, and then these little kids go to high school basketball games and see their coaches out there playing basketball. They get so excited, and it builds a connection to their coaches and the game that is special.”

The Future

Granstaff says the pandemic created numerous challenges for Red River Hoops. The organization recently took ownership of a former school gymnasium, which needs restoration work. Financial pressure comes with running a successful organization. 

“As we move forward post-COVID, I know we’re going to make it,” Granstaff says. “I invited preachers to speak to our kids, and invited people in the community to listen. I feel called to do the work I’m doing, and like I said before, our results can be seen in the student-athlete leaders we turn out.”

We still have our showcase at the end of the school year, the third week in May,” he says. “Twenty-five schools participate. They award trophies, have a three point shooting contest, Hall of Fame coaches attend, and everyone has a great time.”

Stay up to date with Red River Hoops by checking out their Youtube channel HERE!