New Britain Hosts Seventh Annual Hoops For Homeless

Griffin Garcia, Staff Writer

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On Saturday, the seventh annual Hoops for Homeless basketball tournament was held at Central Park in downtown New Britain, benefiting homelessness in the city and those in surrounding areas.

The event is a three-on-three tournament, open to four different age divisions, ranging from elementary school age to middle school and all the way to competitive adults.

The games were either played to 11 points or 15 minutes, whichever comes first, and scoring is ones and twos, as opposed to twos and threes. Though the cost to enter as a team is $50, no teams were turned away due to a lack of funds and all proceeds from the event were given to local programs that directly address homelessness of children and families in our cities and was organized by a board of volunteers.

One of the organizers and Central Connecticut alumnus Adrian Elliott spoke about what it means to put together an event that has a great impact on the community.

“You get a feeling of warmth, not only because am I helping my community, but just being able to give back,” Elliott said.

The first Hoops for Homeless tournament was put together by Joe Vaverchak, Professor Jake Werblow of CCSU and Paul Zagorsky seven years ago. Throughout its time, the tournament has continuously gained popularity, which was apparent on Saturday.

“We thought about the parent that has to bring the kids here, we encouraged vendors and organizations to come,” Elliott said when discussing how the executive board wanted to market the event in order to attract people who were not playing.

As far as making the event happen, there were many groups who worked with the executive board.

“The school system, the coaches from the high school, the physical education teachers are all involved. There are after-school programs who entered teams,” Elliott said of how many different factors are needed to put together an event of this size.

Unity Lodge 148 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons gave out free hot dogs and water to everyone. McDonald’s and Mofongo also donated food.

After preparing the event for the entire year, getting to see the results come to fruition is something that everyone involved looks forward to.

“I look around and see nothing but smiles. Even [the volunteers] only have smiles on their face. We didn’t get great weather, but it beats the rain on Friday” Elliot said, reflecting on the results of the event despite not having ideal conditions.

Those who participate in the tournament also enjoy being able to help the community while playing basketball.

Austin, a 20-year-old sophomore in college from SUNY-Buffalo, New York, was originally in New Britain for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, which was canceled. While going through the city, his team saw and stopped at the event, where they spoke to the event staff and were invited to participate. After learning about the details of the event, Austin said “it feels good to do something that has a purpose.”

As Hoops for Homeless displays success and growth, the upcoming years will look to only continue to help New Britain.