Nashua nonprofit promotes amateur athletic competition in regional sports

Nashua nonprofit promotes amateur athletic competition in regional sports

Granite State Games hosts a girls softball game at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. (Courtesy Mrinali Dhembla)

By Mrinali Dhembla

July 3, 2024

A Nashua-based nonprofit is promoting competitive excellence among high schoolers by providing a platform for athletes to play sports outside of school. 

Founded in 2015, Granite State Games helps young amateur athletes find outlets for their passion in sports by competing in regional teams. The organization includes sports like field hockey, soccer, softball, basketball, baseball, and volleyball, and there are teams from the Lakes region, the Monadnock Region, the Seacoast, and Southern New Hampshire. 

Granite State Games founding board member Wendy Sage-Matsis said that her own love for sports and experience raising children who also love them is what inspired her to bring this initiative to New Hampshire.

“We have four daughters,” she said. “Sports has pretty much been at the forefront of everything they’ve been involved in.” 

Sage-Matsis said that many other states, such as Illinois and Kentucky, already have similar youth amateur athletic leagues, and it was time that the Granite State had one, too. 

“It’s part of a national movement, I guess,” she said. “But also kind of cross the regions, and bring kids together who are always competitors. They now get to play as teammates and play for regional pride and represent their schools on a stage with other competitors throughout the state.”

The games are usually open for high schoolers to participate in, but occasionally the organization will allow rising freshmen to take part. 

In addition to providing the athletes with a space to compete and hone their skills, the nonprofit provides scholarships for  its annual summer games—held June 15-20 this year—as well as  training and practice sessions. 

The winning regions for this year were Coastal for field hockey and soccer; Lakes for volleyball; and Monadnock for softball.

“The directors from each sport then name their coaches for each region,” Sage-Matsis said. “Some of them will hold practices for a couple months leading up to games. Some might get together for a day or two.”

Sage-Matsis said that there is a spot for almost everyone (although tryouts are still held) who may be interested, regardless of skill level, because the organization’s core mission is to increase participation and inculcate sportsmanship in young Granite Staters. 

“And what we’ve tried to do is if a team is full, but somebody’s really interested in playing, we don’t want to say, ‘oh, sorry, you can’t play, ’” she said. “ If there’s a region that needs players, we’ll just share players.”While the organization charges a registration fee, it works  to keep its rates minimal by sending 70 % of its proceeds back into scholarships and donations, and spending 30 % on operations by seeking sponsors and selling Granite State Games merchandise. 

“We’re not looking to make money. We give scholarships away every year as well,” Sage-Matsis said, adding that the organization names eight recipients of Tom Ducharme scholarships every year. 


  • Mrinali Dhembla

    Based in Manchester, Mrinali Dhembla is Granite Post's multimedia reporter. She's previously worked as deputy editor at The Keene Sentinel, and has experience writing for many national and international publications. When not doing journalism, she likes to cook food (and eat it).

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