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Notre Dame hosts ROTC tourney

Matt Bramanti | Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The Flying Irish soared again.

Last weekend, Notre Dame’s Air Force ROTC cadets won the 18th Annual ROTC Invitational. Detachment 225 of the Air Force ROTC sponsored the tournament, held in the Joyce Center, which was open to Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC units nationwide.

The invitational featured 53 teams from across the country, who played at least three games each in brackets named after Notre Dame legends like Sorin, Hesburgh and Parseghian.

In the men’s bracket, the Notre Dame Air Force team beat the Virginia and Tennessee State Air Force squads to advance to the championship game, where they beat the Colorado mixed-service team in the Joyce Center arena to win the tournament. Tournament participants voted Notre Dame sophomore Greg Belatti as tournament MVP.

After beating Marquette’s Army Batallion in the women’s division, the Notre Dame Air Force cadets defeated the Purdue mixed-service squad for the championship.

The results were mixed for the other services at Notre Dame. The Navy unit beat Purdue’s Navy team before losing to Colorado’s mixed-service squad in the men’s semifinals. However, the Army team failed to advance after a tough loss to Marquette.

Andrew DeBerry, a fifth-year senior Air Force cadet who was in charge of the tournament, said the tournament has become a Notre Dame and ROTC tradition.

“It’s the largest annual ROTC competition in the nation,” DeBerry said.

DeBerry said the tournament was a success, thanks to his fellow cadet leaders.

“I had a great staff,” he said. “Because of the contributions of a sharp staff, a supportive wing and great leaders, this tournament was a success.”

The tournament also featured a 3-point shootout and a cadre bracket, in which commanders’ faced off on the floor. In addition to basketball, the Air Force cadets hosted a gathering at Legends, as well as tours of the campus and Notre Dame Stadium.

“It’s a chance for units to build unity within themselves, camaraderie with other future officers across service lines and have an excellent tournament,” DeBerry said. “We emphasize having a good time.”

DeBerry said this year’s tournament was especially unique.

“It’s dedicated to all deployed servicemen and women,” he said. In particular, the cadets played for their former commanding officer, Col. Mark Gehri, who is now serving in Afghanistan.