Summer basketball returns to Thompson June 5 as R.D. Parker Collegiate's Trojans basketball brings back Hoop-It-Up and then puts on the second-annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament the following day, both in the parking lot of City Centre Mall.
Hoop-It-Up is an initiative to get kids outside and active during the summer by setting up eight portable basketball hoops in different areas of town, including the Giant Tiger parking lot, that anyone can use for free. It was started in 2008 when Trojans basketball received a grant from the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation for the purchase of outdoor hoops and basketballs.
Some people thought it might be a waste of money, figuring that the hoops would surely be damaged or maybe even stolen, but it turned out they were wrong, says Sara Gillis, the Trojans senior girls basketball coach, thanks to Impact Security, which helped keep an eye on them, but mostly due to the players themselves.
"We only had two hoops damaged [by vandalism] least year," said Gillis, and it didn't happen until September. "We were pleased at how the neighbourhood kids looked after them. It was a good success with the number using the baskets."
"They treated them well," said Trojans senior boys basketball coach Jonathan Wamboldt, noting that the wind was more harmful to the hoops than anything, knocking several down and bending the rims, which were quickly repaired. "They're lasting quite well so far."
The program is getting started earlier this year than last, when the hoops weren't in place until after Canada Day. There'll be some other changes as well.
"The hoops will be in some different locations than last year," said Gillis, with the City Centre Mall parking lot no longer available. "We're not sure where they'll all be."
Hoop-It-Up kicks off June 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the City Centre Mall parking lot, where the first 60 kids to drop by will be given free basketballs donated by Team Skyline in Winnipeg, the RCMP and Trojans basketball. Those who want to get in a game will also also be able to register for the June 6 3-on-3 tournament, with divisions for boys and girls aged eight to 11 and 12-13, open divisions for 14-15, 16-17 and 18+, as well as a female 14+ division. Registration is $20 for children's teams, $40 for youth teams and $60 for adult teams. It is recommended that teams have one extra player. Registration can also be done at RDPC's phys-ed office. Prizes will be available for all categories.
"We had a pretty good turnout for the first year," said Wamboldt. "We expect a lot more this year."
Out-of-town teams from Wabowden and Nelson House have already indicated they'll enter and the RCMP is also putting in a team, as they did last year.
"We challenge any business or organization to come out and put teams in the tournament," said Wamboldt. "Come out and have a day of fun and exercise."
Each team in the tournament will be guaranteed at least three games, though they'll probably play more, and all money raised will go towards Trojans basketball.
"It's all for participation and fun," said Gillis, who is hopeful the weather will co-operate. "I just hope we have more than 10 degrees."