Every January excitement spreads across campus, due largely to Southwestern’s Annual Hoops Classic. This year will mark its 19th run, drawing basketball players from 50 teams across the United States.
Thanks to the efforts of many, Southwestern’s Annual Hoop Classic is now known as one of the biggest and best Adventist sports tournaments for high school students in North America. “The Classic is an exciting event that allows us to showcase our university to students from across the U.S.,” says Enga Almeida, vice president for enrollment. “They get to see what a beautiful campus we have and experience for themselves the friendliness of our students, faculty, and staff.”
Staff in various areas of the university (student services, marketing, enrollment, campus services, physical plant, spiritual development, and the kinesiology department) spend countless hours putting together a thorough program, masterminded by James The, vice president for student services. “It’s a total team effort,” says Tina Bottsford, director of 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.”
Last year, Southwestern implemented an ambassador program that will be repeated this year. Each team will be presented with their own Southwestern ambassador that will cheer on their teams during games, 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.
“This started out as a Southwestern Union event for our academies,” says Bottsford. “But it 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, Keene Elementary and Keene High School gyms, and the Burleson Recreation Center. The tournament starts Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. and goes through to Saturday at about 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 demonstrate not only skill on the court but also demonstrates sportsmanship at its best.
The schedule is available online at http://swau.edu/hoopsclassic.