I read with interest sportswriter Jeff Tully's article on longtime Burbank youth Coach Mike Graceffo in the July 20 Burbank Leader. A longtime Burbank City Park, Recreation, and Community Services coordinator, Graceffo has been a positive influence on the youth in Burbank for more than 30 years. Graceffo just wrapped up his 13th year of running his MVP Summer Basketball Camp. With 60 youth enrolled from grades 2 through 6, the young athletes are drilled on basketball fundamentals, as well as receiving a strong message on the importance of academic excellence.
Filled with a keen knowledge of all sports, and possessing nonstop enthusiasm, Graceffo is a coach who works extremely hard year round. I have watched several of his teams through the years, and you learn immediately that his athletes all possess the necessary fundamental skills to succeed. Subscribing to the old-school method that repetition makes perfect, his student athletes run the basic drills over and over. If you Facebook Mike, you'll find former and current members of his teams checking in with him. The conversations are quite good. With that enthusiasm and his ability to communicate with the younger student athletes, Graceffo has become the best youth coach in our city. As soon as he finished up his MVP Basketball Camp, he started to coach a team in the city's flag football program.
When Graceffo's name comes up in conversations around the city, invariably one of his student athletes or a parent will relay a story about him. There are some really good stories. My favorite is when I was invited about 10 years ago to see his Pony League Baseball Team play for the championship. Winning a close and exciting game, the 20 student athletes on his team ran to him screaming with happiness, and piled on him. He was buried under a pile of kids for about five minutes. I and others began to worry for his safety. Finally the kids began to climb off, and as we all watched, we could finally see Mike, smiling and laughing. I left and as I drove out of the parking lot and turned onto Victory Boulevard, I said to myself, “Mike had more fun than the kids.” What could be better?