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Campus has a ball

Tori Roeck | Tuesday, April 5, 2011

With close to 750 teams registered for the 40th annual Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball Tournament, the event remains the largest five-on-five outdoor basketball competition in the world.

The tournament, which began Apr. 1, benefits Jumpball, a charity that runs basketball clinics for impoverished children in Jamaica.

“It really focuses on youth empowerment,” tournament coordinator Claire Podgorski said.

Podgorski said Bookstore Basketball is Jumpball’s largest fundraiser. This year an optional $2 donation was added to the online team registration form, she said.

“We tried this out for the first time this year to see if it was going to attract a lot of attention, and we were all shocked at how many people voluntarily clicked, ‘Yes, I will donate an additional $2,'” Podgorski said. “It’s incredible because having that clicked a couple hundred times, it really adds up and the money goes really far to Jumpball.”

In addition to monetary contributions, some students are donating their time by volunteering at Jumpball clinics over the summer, Podgorski said.

Podgorski said Bookstore Basketball is a Notre Dame institution.

“It’s all about the tradition,” she said. “This is the 40th year that Bookstore Basketball has been going on. Whether people pass down costumes or team names or a team theme from year to year, it’s a lot of fun and an absolute riot to go out and see what people come up with.”

Creative team names and crazy outfits are a focus for many teams, Podgorski said.

She said some spirited teams playing Sunday included a team dressed up as Waldos, a team in tiger outfits, a Mario Kart themed team and a team dressed in onesie pajamas.

Freshman Kelsey Cullinan, a member of the team Urine Trouble, said she signed up for Bookstore Basketball to make new friends and stay in shape.

“I get to play a sport I love in not necessarily the most competitive atmosphere, but just with a bunch of people who want to have a good time,” Cullinan said.

Cullinan said the charitable nature of the tournament is another reason she is playing.

“I think it’s a really good cause. I always think it’s good to push for doing different programs that will help kids in different countries that don’ t have a lot to do and getting them off the street.”

Cullinan said she is anxiously awaiting her first game, as Urine Trouble drew a bye for the first round of the tournament.

Freshman Maggie Walsh, a member of the team South Bend Swag District, said she registered for Bookstore Basketball because of its storied tradition. She said her mother played in the tournament when she was a Notre Dame undergraduate.

“Bookstore Basketball is a great tradition because it brings all different types of people together as one in the spirit of Notre Dame,” Walsh said.

Freshman Margeaux Prinster, also a member of South Bend Swag District, said Bookstore Basketball is a fun campus event.

“It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, you just have a good time,” Prinster said.

Walsh said she found her opponents’ outfits amusing. Members of @sportsguyz dressed as a hot dog, Clifford the big red dog, a surgeon and Elvis Presley, she said.

Although South Bend Swag District lost its opening game, Walsh said her first Bookstore Basketball experience was memorable.

“Walking onto the court [and seeing our opponents] was the best part,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the team is already preparing for next year’s tournament.

“The ‘South Bend Swag District’ will expand next year,” Walsh said.