The Windham Youth Basketball programs now boast nearly 500 kids who participate in the sport, but this has led to the challenge of not having adequate facilities for basketball, especially during the winter season. The town has fewer courts and more youths involved in its program than any of our neighboring towns or cities.
“As a community we really need to invest in infrastructure that supports the demand,” stated Windham Youth Basketball Association board president Pat Moody.
To help support the kids Moody and the WYBA started hosting the Sonic Co-ed 3x3 Basketball Tournament in the summer of 2013. The tournament is named “Sonic” in loving memory of Windham alumni Dan “Sonic” Giguere, who was a past star player for Windham in the late 90s. He ended up passing before his time in February of 2013.
The proceeds of the tournament have gone to a number of various programs and projects over the past three years. In 2013, the proceeds were split with donating between the Primary School Playground Fund and a Fund for Dan Giguere’s family (his wife and three young sons). In 2014, the proceeds were used to purchase basketball hoops for the playground at Manchester Middle School and to replace the backboard padding in the Windham Primary School Gymnasium. This year’s proceeds will go toward purchasing a shooting machine that helps train young players to learn the art of shooting.
The tournament has been funded by a combination of sponsors and the entry fees ($50 per team to participate). This year’s primary sponsors were Windham Mill Works, Bob the Screen Printer and Walmart.
This year’s event drew hundreds to the soggy Manchester courts this past Sunday, July 26th. The tournament has grown and has turned into something the community really looks forward to. This year’s 32 teams registered and the tournament earned roughly $2,300. The tournament is primarily made up from teams within Windham and the Windham alumni. However, it has started to promote to local communities who are enjoying the fun competition added to their summer. There are five divisions, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, then high school teams and adult teams. (This year two new divisions were added as there were requests for both the third and fourth grade and high school divisions).
Many of the youth teams have informal practices in the weeks leading up to the tournament and have come prepared to play with customized team uniforms. The tournament has a mini BBQ during the event for those that are hungry and for spectators absorbing the games. The champions of each group received “bragging rights” and champions T-shirts.
The Saturday before, WYBA board members prepare the court and round up additional baskets. Four baskets are borrowed to have enough for all the divisions.
“We have experienced beautiful weather for the first two years and this year we had a two hour rain delay but were able to make it happen with help from many folks,” said Moody. In addition to the generous sponsors this year and in years past, the WYBA would like to give a shout out and extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Cutter’s Edge and the WYBA board members and friends that rescued the tournament from a wet court by bringing personal equipment down to the courts to help dry them off hours before the tournament was to start. It was a team effort with brooms and leaf blowers scrambling to prepare the playing surface.