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Annual Bookstore Basketball Tournament returns to campus

| Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The largest five-on-five outdoor basketball tournament in the world, the Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball Tournament, will begin this week.

The student-run tournament began in 1972, and it was not until 1996 when the program started to donate all the proceeds to the Jumpball Basketball Programme in Jamaica, co-president and senior Julia Pucillo said.

“It was started by two Notre Dame alumni in 1996, and they were already down there volunteering in Kingston,” Pucillo said. “They saw the need for some sort of extracurricular opportunity for the school children, so they started Jumpball and it has grown to not only being in Kingston, but to other satellite locations in Jamaica and Haiti. Bookstore has helped fund it for a little less than a decade now. I was a coach there, a lot of Notre Dame alumni come back — some for several years — and it is just [a] really great way to teach kids basketball, help them and teach them leadership and teamwork skills while being active.”

Thanks to their partnership with Under Armour and help from the Student Activities Office (SAO), co-president and senior Anthony Molinaro said, most of the money is donated to Jumpball.

“In the past several years, we have donated about $10,000 to Jumpball each year,” Molinaro said. “Anything else goes into renovating the court and getting new basketballs. Luckily we have been partnered with Under Armour, who has been providing us with free basketballs or gift cards for the winners, and even the tent we sit under. It’s a minimum cost for upkeep because [Student Activities Office] does a good job helping us fund these things because we are technically not a club that gets funding at the beginning of the year.”

Although the event is centered around a tradition of basketball and charity, new creative team names appear every year. One such team, the “LimeBike Gang,” is being sponsored by LimeBike this year.

“On a whim I went to [LimeBike’s] customer service website, emailed them and told them what Bookstore Basketball was, who we are and how we are a team and how we love LimeBikes,” freshman Kilian Vidourek said. “I said, ‘Hey, if you want to sponsor us, that’d be cool.’ And a lady responded saying she forwarded our email to a South Bend representative, and then she responded a few days later with ‘We love your story, we would love to give you hats, water bottles, shirts and free bikes to ride into the tournament on.’”

Although this started out as a joke due to the team members’ dedication to LimeBike, Vidourek said he thinks LimeBike’s involvement will only benefit the Notre Dame community.

“It brings attention to Notre Dame, it makes LimeBike aware of the charity work we do here and maybe it will branch out,” he said. “It was a joke that turned into a real goal to bring awareness of Bookstore Basketball to anyone who listens.”

As team captain, freshman Andrew Obert said he takes their sponsorship and their future competition seriously.

“[Vidourek] mentioned winning the entire tournament in the email, so now it’s like, ‘Oh, we need to practice,’ because we can’t let down our corporate overlords,” Obert said. “They decided to embrace us as part of the family, and anyone who opposes us really opposes LimeBike South Bend and what it stands for. We personify them. … We should be feared. Hope whoever draws ‘LimeBike Gang’ out of the hat knows who their competition is.”

With the energy students bring to the tournament through their creative team names and the tradition that supports a good cause, Molinaro said the best moments he has had have been watching the teams play.

“The first few Saturdays when it starts to get nice out, there’s a big group of executives and commissioners all hanging out,” Molinaro said. “The teams early on at this point are not really there to win it and not super into the competitive aspect, but they’re dressed up, having fun. It’s cool to get everyone out there for a tradition that also goes for a really good cause.”

Pucillo said she also believes the tournament establishes a sense of community while providing entertainment and donations.

“The finals the past couple years have been memorable,” she said. “During my freshman year, a Holy Cross College team had won for the past three years and were trying to get [a] fourth win, but a Notre Dame team ultimately ended up winning. Finals last year were also good, went into a lot of overtime.

“Some more memorable moments would have to be in the early rounds. Just hanging with other executives and commissioners watching games, it’ll be a really nice day, and you just feel happy to be there and make a difference.”

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About Meagan Bens

Meagan is a junior Visual Communication Design major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor living in Lyons Hall. She serves as a sports writer and hails from the suburbs of Chicago.

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