GALLIPOLIS — Each year, the organizers of the The Hoop Project name a Hoop Master to honor those who inspire and support the community.
This year, Jeff and Marsha Smith will be recognized as the 2016 Hoop Masters for The Hoop Project 2016, scheduled for July 16-17 in Gallipolis City Park.
“Whether it is to education, to the arts, to community events or to businesses, Jeff and Marsha Smith give to every facet of our community,” said co-organizer Meagan Barnes. “They are a source of inspiration for many of us, not just in the way they give, but in the way they volunteer, support and serve as positive examples for Gallia County. They are the type of people that make this community great and this is just one way we can honor them.”
Co-organizer Robbie Pugh echoed Barnes’ sentiments, saying both Jeff and Marsha are always ready to lend support.
“Jeff and Marsha can be found attending every event within the community. Their positive nature and support is infectious and genuine. They are role models and examples for me and other young people that follow their lead,” Pugh said.
A husband and wife team, Jeff and Marsha Smith, were both born and raised in Gallia County and were surprised, honored and humbled when they were asked to serve as Hoop Masters for this year’s event.
Both feel supporting community events, and those who organize them, is important to the growth of Gallia County.
“We want to see our community grow and are thrilled to see new leadership developing and investing their time, talents and treasures here,” Marsha said. “It’s exciting to see these new activities ‘birthed’ by these millennials.”
Specifically about The Hoop Project, Jeff said the event is the result of a group of young men and women, dedicated to making a difference in their community, investing their time, talent and resources into making their hometown prosperous again.
“The Hoop Project has brought hundreds of young athletes, coaches and parents to our community. While there is a significant economic benefit, it also exposes scores of first-time visitors to the Gallia County seat, which has the most beautiful park and the most stunning Ohio River view from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati,” he said. “Only the Bob Evans Farm Festival brings more people to our community for a single weekend.”
“The Hoop Project is certainly one of the many ideas we have supported from the beginning,” Marsha said. “While neither of us ever played basketball, we felt this project would showcase our community to others in the state and elsewhere.”
Marsha said she remembers the first year and how special it was watching the volunteers create the courts and the young artisans paint their masterpieces of sponsors and honorees on those courts.
“And, the icing on the cake was to witness the opening ceremonies and the multitude of people this event attracted to our area,” she said. “It’s been amazing to see The Hoop Project continue to grow, which not only displays our beautiful little river town and fabulous park, but also generates financial benefits for businesses in the area. It’s a win-win situation.”
The Hoop Project 2016, a three-on-three full court basketball tournament organized by the Downtown Revitalization Project in Gallipolis City Park, will take place July 16-17. The Smiths will officially start the games and be honored during the Dunk Contest. The deadline to register is 6 p.m. July 11.
For more information, visit www.thehoopproject.com or call/text (937) 474-9427.
Michelle Miller is executive director of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce.