January at Southwestern Adventist University signals an important event on campus. Southwestern’s 18th Annual Hoops Classic, set for Jan. 23-27, will draw players from 44 teams across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Staff in student services, enrollment, campus services, physical plant, spiritual development and the kinesiology department have spent countless hours putting together this year’s program, masterminded by James The, vice president for student services. “It’s a total team effort,” says Tina Bottsford, director of enrollment.
Now the biggest and best Adventist sports tournament for high school students in North America, Southwestern continues to host this tournament every year. “It is an exciting event that allows us to showcase our university to students from across the U.S. They get to see what a beautiful campus we have and experience for themselves the friendliness of our students, faculty and staff.” says Enga Almeida, vice president for enrollment.
“Southwestern is committed to the physical, mental, social and spiritual development process of the student athlete,” says The. “The Hoops Classic is dedicated to athletes who can compete in any setting with the elements of fairness, courteous behavior and gracious acceptance of both individual and contest results.”
Southwestern is changing it up a bit this year by providing each team with its own ambassador. The ambassador will be at the games to cheer on their team, eat with them at Friday night supper and lunch on Sabbath, and just hang out and talk with them. “The role of the ambassador is to foster good will, be the go-to person and answers any questions about Southwestern or the tournament,” says Bottsford. In addition, anyone visiting can find help or answers to questions by finding a Southwestern volunteer, identifiable by their brightly colored shirts that says EVENT STAFF on the back. Ambassadors will wear a similarly colored EVENT STAFF hoodie.
Southwestern is providing teams with a Friday night meal and Sabbath lunch in the gym. Team colors will decorate their tables, with the two meals giving each team an opportunity to socialize with other tournament schools and Southwestern staff and students.
A men’s team representing Puerto Rico will attend, which is a first. “This year we sent out invitations to almost every Adventist Academy in the nation, including Puerto Rico,” says Bottsford. In addition to the Puerto Rican team, teams from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas are represented.
“This started out as a Southwestern Union event for our academies,” says Bottsford. “But has caught on as an exciting event to attend for people who live in the area. When I go to our different academies I hear, ‘Oh that’s my favorite event!’ so I know how much it means to a lot of people.”
Games will be held in Southwestern’s gym, Chisholm Trail Academy’s gym, Keene Jr. High School and Keene High School gyms, and the Burleson Recreation Center. The tournament starts Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. and goes through to about Jan. 27 at 2 a.m. Southwestern will be awarding trophies to the winning teams of each division, as well as two $3,000 scholarships for Most Outstanding Male and Female Player who demonstrates not only skill on the court but also demonstrates sportsmanship at its best.