Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends, football, and pie. But for some high school basketball teams, the week of turkey day symbolizes another tradition that is going on its 16th year: The Hoops for Healing tournament.
“You think it’s time of family and friends at Thanksgiving time and our kids who are very competitive are playing their hearts out to win basketball games. But win or lose, we won. We were 1-3 last year at downers south and the kids understood that they did something great for other kids.”
Jeff Powers retired as the Naperville North Boys Basketball Coach two years ago. The Huskies are just one of the many teams who compete and also help host the tournament every year with Oswego.
Powers talks about the tournament, “My theme that I brought to Naperville was making men of integrity. And what more that we could do to help other kids during their times of need was this mission so it’s been a great time for our kids and great thing to help out the community also. “
The tournament raises money for Camp Hope, a weekly summer camp that invites kids who have a family member diagnosed with cancer to come and be a kid for a few days while also learning how to cope with the illness.
Linda Conlin, an organizer of camp hope talks about the history, “2006 is when we got affiliated with the tournament and the 9 high schools that they do a thanksgiving tournament for us. They wanted to let the kids know that it’s more than just basketball.”
“Really, we don’t give a trophy for the winner. The trophy is that we got to compete and we are sending kids to camp. So I think that message has been great from both programs from Oswego and from Naperville. It’s been something special to be apart of,” Powers added.
As the tournament preps for his 16th tip off, the organizers hope that this year will bring in even more funds than the past.
Powers talks about the different wants money is raised, “Teams raise money, we have shirts that we sell, we have bands that we have sold. All the money that we raised after we pay the workers, I know a couple times the officials that officiate the game donated part of their checks. It’s been a whole community involved in giving back. That’s neat when you see people doing that.”
“It’s definitely a program, camp hope, that I will remember the rest of my life, no matter what. And I’m sure so many other people will.”
Adding to a week all ready known for giving thanks, 9 local basketball teams come together to work off all that thanksgiving food and raise money for kids who get to be kids for a few days in the summer in the Hoops for Healing tournament.
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