Ottumwa Youth Basketball Tournament
On November 7th, 2015 five teams competed in a youth basketball tournament hosted by the Bulldog Action Group from the Ottumwa Accelerated Career Academy at the Ottumwa YMCA. After over seven hours they finally crowned a winner. The winning team, The Ankle Assassins, took the winning prize against the team from the Ottumwa YMCA with a final score of 75-71. When presented the $250 cash prize, The Ankle Assassins asked that the winnings be donated to the Lord’s Cupboard, the local food pantry in Ottumwa. The Ankle Assassins averaged at 77 points a game, while the YMCA team averaged at 66 points a game.
“It was a great way to waste the day, playing basketball which is what we love to do.” YMCA team member Kaleb Aschenbrenner said. “I thought it was a good opportunity for kids to play together and create the chemistry needed for a successful team.” Rikkia Starks, the only female player competing in the tournament, stated that it would be nice if there were more tournaments for kids who enjoy playing basketball but aren’t on a high school team. “It went well,” Starks said. “Everyone played their hardest.”
Tournament organizers were pleased with youth turnout and community support. The tournament had originally been planned for July, but there were not enough teams registered at the time. “I’m proud of the kids. Instead of giving up on the idea, they assessed what went wrong and came up with solutions.” Amanda LeGrande, teacher at ACA, said. “It’s a great example of service learning, which is a teaching strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, develop civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”
“We could not have done this without businesses sponsoring teams, the organizing and volunteer hours from the ACA students and teachers, community volunteers, and the assistance from the YMCA.” ACA Bulldog Action group member Meghan Gruber added, “I think the event was a success, and it definitely encourages us to look for more opportunities to create events for teens in the community. We look forward to bringing our ideas into action.” Currently the group has a grant proposal submitted to a local group to sponsor two afternoons of free bowling for teens. All teen participants will receive passes for two to a local recreational facility (movies, bowling, indoor pool, YMCA). Spring possibilities include a field day and picnic open to the community. Students are writing grant proposals and making connections with community groups to make this happen.