Albany Hoop Jam: Slam Dunk For Kids
Local businesses were swamped as the Sears parking lot in the Heritage Mall was overrun with 156 three-person teams, and all their friends and family.
Blaring today’s top-40 music, the DJ got kids of all ages grooving as the weekend competition was set to start, Aug. 13-14.
Albany Hoop Jam is a three-on-three basketball tournament featuring youths ages 7 to 19.
While competing for bragging rights in a round-robin tournament, teams are also raising money for the local Boys and Girls Club of Albany.
The sweltering 90-degree weather made staying hydrated a priority as the cheeks of many grew rosy, and the air filled with the smell of suntan lotion.
The 7 through the 10-year-olds games were the most entertaining and least serious, as the fundamentals are still being learned. Despite still gaining new skills, the kids did not lack the desire to win.
The older-aged kids brought more intensity as well as their teenage swagger. Most wore the latest model basketball shoes fresh out of the box, along with their favorite player’s jersey.
Team Fearless coach and father, Zachary Rumble, stood by as his girls soaked up some shade after a loss.
“This is the first time we entered, but the girls have been practicing at the house three days a week,” said Rumble. “I am just happy they are off their phones and into something physical, it’s been great.”
There were lots of other activities to compete in between games, including a three-point contest, free throw contest, slam dunk contest and even some dancing as the emcee kept things moving.
Linn-Benton’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Everette Hartman was out to judge the slam dunk contest, and Oregon State women’s basketball player Samantha Siegner made an appearance to support her little sister’s team. Siegner participated in OSU’s championship basketball run last year.
By the end of the first day teams were exhausted. Most had competed in four games, setting up their second day of action.
Day two brought the sizzling heat back as teams were bumped. The reality of being eliminated showed on their faces, some trying to hold back the tears while others just let loose.
The victors awaited their turns on the championship court with heads held high, sizing up their next opponent.
The competition intensified as the cream rose to the top, and the best of the best squared off.
Parents and grandparents who had been cheering moved with their teams. Some leaving and having to console, while others made their way to the championship court.
Cheers were loud, and the disagreement with the calls were in unison.
As teams were eliminated and the crowd shrunk, the volunteers and Boys and Girls Club staff were well organized and efficient as they were continually breaking down things and consolidating.
No Dinx was the title sponsor for this fundraising event. General Manager Trent Leslie, who once worked for the Boys and Girls Club, now does all their screen printing of banners, T-shirts, hats, and signs.
“This is one of our favorite events to sponsor,” said Leslie. “The Boys and Girls Clubs do so much for the youth in the communities they are involved in, and we are tickled to be able to help.”
Each winner of their division was given a Hoop Jam T-shirt and a medal inscribed with their division and champion. The money raised was estimated roughly $18,000 and will go straight to the Boys and Girls Club, which provides sports scholarships for local children.
For complete results see, bgc-albany.org.
Photo and article by Brian Hausotter.