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Bookstore Basketball sees changes

Jarrett Lantz | Thursday, March 17, 2005

Amid the frenzy of NCAA March Madness, Notre Dame is preparing to tip off Bookstore Basketball, the largest five-on-five basketball tournament in the world.

This year, hopeful champions have an added incentive to sign up – to help children in Jamaica.

A significant portion of team entrance fees will go to the Jumpball program, which has offered free basketball clinics to hundreds of Jamaican children for the past decade. The charity, sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Jamaica, strives to keep disadvantaged youth away from the drugs and violence in their neighborhoods.

“Notre Dame challenges and inspires its students and extended Notre Dame family to work for positive social change,” said Anna Skoien, student liaison to Jumpball. “In this regard, the Jumpball program is a perfect fit for Bookstore Basketball.”

Bookstore Basketball began asking its participants to donate to Jumpball in 2002. In 2004, tournament coordinators decided each team should make a uniform contribution, and this year, five dollars from each team’s registration fee will be donated to the charity.

In the past, the tournament has donated a total of $2,000 to $3,000 dollars to the charity. Its organizers are hoping for the same results this year.

“It is our goal to one day have the Jumpball program entirely funded by Notre Dame’s Bookstore Basketball tournament,” Skoien said.

However, many Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross students don’t realize the basketball tournament is connected to a charity.

“I’d love to say that people are excited to participate because of the charity,” said Amy Geist, Student Groups Coordinator at the Student Activities Office. “But we’ve found that not many people are aware of the Jumpball program.”

For this year’s tournament, organizers hope to change that by adopting a “We Play So They Can Play” motto on clothing and by including Jumpball information with the Bookstore Basketball materials.

“We’re hoping to educate the tournament participants about Jumpball so they will know where the money is going,” Geist said.

So far, Notre Dame is the only university affiliated with Jumpball, but the program may be receiving more fundraising help from other sources in the future. Thanks to Bookstore Basketball’s success at Notre Dame, other schools have been looking to start their own tournaments.

“I was contacted by a student at Princeton University who was trying to start up a similar tournament there,” Geist said. “Last year I spoke with someone else at a school in Kentucky about it, too.”