GALLIPOLIS — After last year’s slam dunk of a success, organizers of The Hoop Project are aiming to nearly double the event’s number of participants this year.
The non-profit project is supported by the 12-member board of the Downtown Revitalization Project, and co-chair of the project, Robbie Pugh, said the board hopes to nearly double last year’s 300-350 participants of 65 teams to 500-600 participants of more than 100 teams.
“Last year when we wanted to have the tournament we were told from numerous people, ‘Awh, you can’t do it. You’ll be lucky to get 10 teams,’ and then we got 65 and our goal this year is 100. I think it would just be awesome if we could reach that goal,” he said.
The Hoop Project is a 3-on-3, full-court basketball tournament that takes places in Gallipolis City Park and along city streets. Last year was the tournament’s first year, and this year the event is set to take place July11-13.
Pugh said the initial goals of the tournament were to provide recreation for kids and members of the Gallipolis community, as well as provide foot traffic to local businesses.
“We really wanted to promote our local restaurants and get some people in the door. Last year, we had reports from the local restaurants that they had record-setting days. All the restaurants were very appreciative of what we did with The Hoop Project, and they’re all very excited about this year,” he said.
Pugh said organizers of the tournament obtained additional sponsors to help the committee purchase 14 high-quality basketball rims, complete with glass backboards and breakaway rims. He said the committee plans to rent additional rims so that they can have 12-14 courts. Last year, organizers only rented and borrowed rims, which resulted in eight total courts.
Also, Pugh said that last year the tournament ages started at 10 and Under, but this year there is an 8 and Under division, in addition to the 9-10, 11-12, 13-15, 16-18, 19-35 , and 36 and over divisions for men, women, girls and boys. There will also be a men’s and women’s open court for higher-level players, he said.
The event will kick off with a court dedication ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday to unveil the courts and new rims, and to thank the many sponsors of the The Hoop Project, Pugh said. The tournament starts at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Family Fun Day will also take place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and will feature a dance contest, a skills challenge, a 3-point contest, inflatables, face painting, free balloon animals and music.
“Last year, we had problems with the rain so we kind of had an improv dance competition out in the middle of the street while we were waiting for the rain to stop and the courts to dry. We had so much fun with that that this year we’re going to actually make it a part of the Saturday night festivities,” Pugh said.
The dunk contest will also take place Saturday at 7:30 p.m., which Pugh said he expects to be the event that will draw the biggest crowd. Saunders Insurance Agency is sponsoring the contest with a $1,000 cash prize for the winner. The contest will have a panel of 10 judges, comprised of locals. Pugh said anyone is allowed to enter the contest, however if a high school or college athlete wins they cannot accept the cash prize due to amateur status of other participants.
The deadline to sign up for the tournament is July 8. The registration fee is $75 per team, with all proceeds going to the cost of the event and t-shirts. To register visit www.thehoopproject.com.
“We are really excited,” Pugh said “We hope we have a tremendous turnout.”