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Student competition to aid camp

Amanda Gray | Monday, March 7, 2011

Soon the sound of bouncing basketballs and cheers will sound around campus with the annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament during the month of April, but organizers wanted participants to know the event is about much more than the 5-on-5 games on the court.

The annual tournament benefits the Jumpball Basketball Programme, a free basketball day camp for children held in Jamaica, Programme co-director and co-founder Chad Sutcliffe said. Sutcliffe and the other founder, Bill Maloney, are 1995 graduates of Notre Dame.

“[Kingston, Jamaica, where the main camp is held,] is very different from what you think of when you think of Jamaica,” Sutcliffe said. “It’s a very large third-world city. It’s very poor with extremely high crime rates. Many kids come from these backgrounds. When school is out, many kids don’t have anything to do. This camp gives them an activity. Parents and kids can come by and know they can have a great time.”

The Programme was founded in the summer of 1995 from funds collected by the Alumni Club of Jamaica, and it had a little more than 100 children participate, Sutcliffe said. He was volunteering in Kingston as a teacher when he became involved.

“The nice thing about summer is you get time off,” he said. “It was an opportunity to get kids to come out. We sort of hodge-podged it together. It just came from there.”

Now more than 300 children attend the Kingston clinic, with 25 to 50 children each attending the six other satellite clinics, adding up to 600 kids in all each summer.

“We’ve had to move locations [to the National Stadium Basketball Courts] because it’s grown,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of repeat kids, and many go on to become volunteer coaches.”

Sutcliffe said the program is continuing to grow, maxing out the number of attendees every year.

“We’re trying to increase the number of boys and girls from orphanages,” he said. “We’re excited to do something in the world to make a difference. It gives a lot of pride to the Notre Dame connection. It’s a name that people in Kingston know.”

For the past four years, two students have made the trip down to Jamaica to help at the main clinic, Sutcliffe said. One of the students who went this summer, junior Bobby Curley, is a member of the Bookstore Basketball Executive team.

“[The experience] was great,” Curley said. “I got to know the Jamaican coaches really well. You learned a lot about another part of the world.”

He said all the profits from the $25 entry fee are donated to Jumpball, and around 700 teams participate. Curley said when he came to Notre Dame, he didn’t know what benefited from Bookstore Basketball.

“Knowing the cause made it a much better event to be a part of. It benefits people miles away,” he said. “When you participate, it’s a great time, but it’s also a great cause.”

Sutcliffe said Bookstore Basketball is Jumpball’s largest sponsor.

“We want to get to the point where everyone associates Bookstore with our charity,” he said.

Sutcliffe said the Programme is about more than the sport of basketball.

“The kids are learning life skills through basketball,” he said. “We also give out lunches, which doesn’t seem like much but is a big deal. … We’ve helped out over 5,000 kids in all.”

Registration for Bookstore Basketball began March 1 and will run until March 11 on www.nd.edu/~bkstr, Curley said.

“One of my favorite parts of Notre Dame is its tradition and tradition of athletics,” he said. “This combines both. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year.”