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DAA’s Art Bass exemplifies values taught in youth sports


Doylestown Athletic Association (DAA) has been operating in the Central Bucks area for more than 50 years now. While Art Bass hasn’t been involved with DAA since the beginning, it sure seems that way.
“Art helps out with all the sports – whatever anybody needs. He’s the boots on the ground; he’s the man that everybody knows,” says DAA board member Loretta Jenkins.
“He just has a good heart and he’s there to help the community.
“Mostly, he wants to make sure there’s an opportunity for the kids to laugh and have fun.”
DAA is a nonprofit that serves over 3,000 boys and girls, annually, who come to play baseball, softball, basketball, field hockey and volleyball. In addition to serving as DAA president from the early 2000s until last year, Bass is the current and longtime director of girls basketball.
Bass says he first became involved in DAA sports in the late 1980s. He says another DAA parent who coached at Council Rock High School talked him into officiating basketball games. Bass has been doing that ever since, earning his PIAA certification in 2000.
He must like it. Bass says he’s officiated as many as 20-25 games a week during busy stretches of the basketball season.
Over the years, there have been some incredible athletes that have come out of DAA who went on to greater success at the high school and college level. Nicole Munger, a CB West grad who played women’s basketball at Michigan from 2015 to 2019, is one. Alex Louin, a Mount Saint Joseph alum who played basketball at Villanova from 2014 to 2018, is another as is Caroline Doty, a three-sport athlete at Germantown Academy who scored over 700 points at UConn from 2008 to 2013.
While Bass knows all three, he’s quick to point out that most of the kids who participate in DAA sports will never be Division I athletes.
“The kids are here to have fun and we want them to have a good experience,” he says.
That’s DAA’s motto too, says Sherri Belfus, current volleyball league director.
“It’s a rec league sports program so it’s not just for the best players. If you’re on a team in DAA, everyone is going to get a chance to play,” says Belfus.
“For a lot of kids, it’s their first experience with sports so it’s really important that it’s a positive experience.
“How to work together as a team, winning isn’t everything, learning a new sport, having patience with yourself, understanding it takes practice to get better.
“Art is the epitome of that.”
Belfus says Bass has a sure knack for finding the kid who is quiet, shy or intimidated and making them feel comfortable.
“His famous line is ‘I’m not going to let you get out there unless you give me a smile.’”
“Eventually, the child would smile and it would be really exciting for them because they were playing with the rest of the kids.”
“He’s always been the kids’ greatest cheerleader.”
Belfus first came to DAA in 2004 with a proposal to start a volleyball program. Bass, who was DAA president at the time, said “sure!”
Belfus says Bass fell in love with the volleyball program.
“There’s no yelling in volleyball. The kids are having a ball and they’re happy,” says Bass. “They screw up and they’re high-fiving each other no matter how bad they’re playing.”
Ironically, volleyball is the one DAA sport where a kid can play all year long. While COVID saw some declines in athletic participation, especially indoor sports, Belfus says 700 to 850 kids a year participate in youth volleyball at DAA.
Bass helps out with the volleyball program in the spring, summer and fall, while turning his attention to basketball in the winter months.
Saturdays in the winter for Bass are spent officiating basketball in the gym of a Central Bucks school, sometimes Kutz Elementary, or at others like Tohickon Middle School.
“I’ll be there from 7:45 a.m. until 5 o’clock at night,” he says.
Weeknights last summer, Bass could be found guiding the beach volleyball teams in the sand behind the Fannie Chapman pool. While he says the experience wreaked havoc with his already aching knees, Bass admits he loves every minute of it.

“I had a woman come up to me the other day who I coached when she was 10,” explains Bass. “Now, she’s in her 40s and she has kids of her own in the program.
“It’s interesting seeing how all these kids have grown up and done well for themselves.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early on in 2020, DAA suspended indoor sports that winter before picking things back up with baseball, softball and volleyball that summer.
That meant no indoor volleyball clinics and the cancellation of basketball, Bass’ DAA baby.
“He runs 24-7 and I don’t think the man has ever sat down a day in his life. Now, all of a sudden all his extracurricular activities stopped,” explained DAA Vice President Jeff Marcinkowski.
“Everything that he supported and liked to do 24-7, 365 days a year, he no longer had to do.
“So it was hard on him.
“That’s where his enjoyment in life comes from – watching the kids smile.”
In addition to COVID, a lack of volunteers has also presented a challenge.
“There’s literally nobody volunteering anymore,” says Bass. “We’re having to go out and hire college kids to coach youth sports.”
Last fall, Bass had to step in and direct Saturday field hockey programs on a couple occasions.
“It’s becoming a pretty big issue with us,” said Bass. “Everybody’s busy and COVID has knocked the heck out of everything but even before that, it wasn’t easy to get volunteers.”
Still, others give back to the organization when time out from their busy lives permits.
There’s Munger, who went on to score 1,000 points at Michigan and was recently appointed as a recruiter at Fordham. And Louin, an All-Big East standout at Villanova, who has played professionally in Europe, and Doty, a current assistant coach at Wisconsin who was part of three national championship teams, two that went undefeated at UConn.
All three have come back at different times over the years to help out at DAA.
“There’s a lot of good people you meet along the way,” says Bass. “They appreciate what you’ve done for them and they want to give back.”
But why would a septuagenarian like Bass whose kids long ago aged out of the DAA program still want to be involved in it?
“He just loves doing it,” said Eli Gray, one of Art’s daughters who played DAA sports as a kid and came back to become the organization’s treasurer. “Everybody knows him and we all joke around that he’s the mayor of Doylestown.
“He’s obviously not but he just loves being part of the community and he loves seeing these girls flourish.
“Most don’t go on to play for UConn but he likes giving kids skills so they can play; he likes team-building.
“His big thing is to get all kids into sports, no matter if you’re good or bad.
“If we had more people like Art Bass, the world would be a better place,” adds Marcinkowski.
“He knows what it’s like to self-sacrifice and he’ll do anything to make a child smile and bring happiness to kids.”
“In a world of declining volunteerism, he’s a dinosaur; he’s unique.
“It’s his life; it’s what he does.”

@stevesherman222 on Twitter

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