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Basketball registration ends Fri.

Kristen Durbin | Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bookstore Basketball, the world’s largest outdoor five-on-five basketball tournament, is just around the corner, and the tournament’s organizers are hoping to break their own record by garnering even more teams to play than last year’s 650.

Registration for the open and women’s tournaments ends Friday at 5 p.m., but the main goal of the tournament’s executive staff is to raise money and awareness for Jumpball, a basketball camp that provides free instruction and lunch to children in and around Kingston, Jamaica.

“The more teams that participate, the more funding we get for the camp,” tournament organizer Jack Goonan, a junior, said. “We want to give kids the chance to play because they have limited funds and opportunities to do so.”

Tournament organizer Kelly Flynn, a junior, said Bookstore Basketball funds the entire camp by itself. Last year’s tournament raised $12,000 for the Kingston camp and its satellite locations, making the camp completely free for its participants and providing equipment and personnel for the camp, she said.

One of the camp’s coaches is from the Notre Dame community and two of the tournament’s commissioners travel to the camp every summer.

“It’s a good charity and a good time, and you get to see where all the money goes to,” Goonan said.

Goonan encouraged freshmen to sign up for the tournament since their participation is traditionally low.

“Freshmen should sign up because it’s a long running Notre Dame tradition,” Goonan said. “If they sign up now, they can have four years of funny moments on the courts.”

Although attracting more participation from the freshman class is a perennial concern, a more serious, time-consuming issue is the submission of inappropriate team names each year.

“Every year, we have to sit and go through every single team name and approve them,” Flynn said. “Then, the Student Activities Office reviews and approves that list.”

Flynn noted that many teams try to be as funny as possible in creating team names, but what is funny for college students is not always appropriate for such a highly publicized, University-sponsored event.

The championship title is up for grabs because last year’s open winners, Hallelujah Holla Back, will not be competing this year, sophomore team member Dayne Crist said.

“I can’t play this year because I’m recovering from ACL repair surgery, and [teammate] Joe Fauria transferred to UCLA,” said Crist, a quarterback on the Irish football team. “[Team member] Jonas Gray can’t play because of a new rule restricting football players from playing basketball.”

Women’s tournament champions Four Girls and a Guy will be back to defend their title, under a new name with an additional teammate, said senior Molly McCarthy, a member of last year’s team who also helped organize the tournament.

She said the team’s victory last year was especially meaningful because her father and teammate Jane Fleming’s father made a surprise appearance at the final game.

“The victory with our dads watching is definitely one of my favorite college memories, but I expect nothing less than a great tournament this year,” McCarthy said. “It’ll be hard work to get back to the championship, but we look forward to every game.”

The executive staff said they are enthusiastic about the tournament beginning.

“We’ve been working on this since December, so it’s been a long process,” Flynn said. “We’re excited to see how many teams will come out.”

This year’s open tournament will start on March 27 and end April 25. Any student, staff or faculty member from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross is invited to participate.

The large number of teams requires the open tournament to be spread out over the course of a month. Because the women’s tournament only attracts around 70 teams, it begins later than the open tournament.

The semifinals and finals will take place the same weekend as the annual Blue-Gold Game, which is set for April 24.