As college basketball seasons wind down with March Madness and the National Invitation Tournament, another basketball tournament is set to start March 21 at the O’Reilly Family Event Center at Drury University.
Eight teams and 70 players representing seven Springfield and Branson area Rotary clubs and the Rotaract Club of Springfield will participate in the 24th annual Rotary Basketball Tournament to Benefit Special Olympics, says Brad Bodenhausen, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce vice president and basketball tournament organizer.
Play is scheduled March 21, 22 and 24 at Drury, with four games each night starting at 5:30. Participants include the Rotary clubs of Branson-Hollister, Ozark, Springfield, Springfield Metro, Springfield North, Springfield Southeast, Springfield Sunrise and the Rotaract Club of Springfield.
While competition during the tournament can be stiff, Bodenhausen says players realize it’s for a good cause and enjoy the fellowship with other Rotarians.
“It’s a little bit competitive, especially when the top teams play,” says Bodenhausen, who will take to the court with fellow Springfield Southeast Rotarians, including Pat Harrington of Davis Properties, Marc Mayer of Great Southern Bank, attorney Joe Piatchek and Rusty
Worley of Urban Districts Alliance. “It’s in the spirit of Rotary.”
Last year, the event raised $11,703, and during the approximately 16 years the event has benefited Special Olympics, $113,511 has been raised. Admission is free, but donations to Special Olympics of Missouri are accepted.
The money will be used to transport athletes to events statewide, Bodenhausen says.
Though the charity wins in the end, a team is crowned champ, and youth often prevails. Springfield’s Rotaract chapter, for ages 30 and younger, won last year’s tournament, as it has the last several years.
“They’ve pretty much won or tied every year they’ve been in it,” Bodenhausen says.
Scott Financial Services owner Steve Scott, who Bodenhausen calls “the godfather of the tournament,” helped start the tournament.
“We started this thing as a way for two Rotary clubs to get together and have some fun,” says Scott, who will sit out this year due to injury. “We decided early on that we would give anything we made to Special Olympics.”
A pair of Special Olympic teams will play an exhibition game at 7:30 p.m. March 24.
“When we have the special game on Thursday night, it reminds folks why we’re competing,” Bodenhausen says.
Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with mental disabilities, according to www.somo.org
, the organization’s Web site. The sports give the athletes opportunities to develop physical fitness, be part of a team and share in friendships.
Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that supports local and international service projects and encourages high ethical standards across vocations, according to Rotary. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 32,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographical areas.[[In-content Ad]]