Hoop Project12

Submitted photos

The Hoop Project’s Inaugural Year a Success

The Hoop Project, a 3 on 3 full court basketball tournament, was held on the streets surrounding the Gallipolis City Park on July 20 & 21.  Despite the rain and eventual relocation of the tournament indoors, over 64 teams participated in the event.  In addition to the basketball tournament, the Hoop Project hosted a community fun day including bounce houses, music, and face painting on Saturday in the park.

The Hoop Project, powered by the Digital River Project, was founded by DRP board members Robbie Pugh & Meagan Barnes.  Pugh thought that holding a local basketball tournament would spur growth in downtown Gallipolis, in addition to aligning with DRP’s mission to Innovate, Renovate, & Educate new & existing businesses in the area.

Parkfront Diner owner, Becky Rothgeb said, “What a boost for my dinner sales!  While in the Park, you could feel the excitement in the air, kids & adults playing, visitors commenting on our gorgeous park, it was wonderful to witness.  The continuous announcements encouraging everyone to come eat and shop in the area worked, I had a record day.  Reminded me of the days when town was always packed on Saturdays.  I am appreciative of everyone who had a hand in making this event happen for our town and look forward to next year!”

The owners of Courtside Bar and Grill also thanked those responsible for The Hoop Project in an open letter posted to their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/courtsidebarandgrill.

” Albert Einstein once said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means”. Over the course of the last few months and this last weekend in particular, a large group of local individuals set a sterling example concerning the power of volunteerism by donating their time and effort to an event known as the Digital Hoops Project. The event was a 3 on 3 basketball tournament held on First Avenue that attracted sixty five teams from Gallia County and points far beyond. The goals of the Digital Hoop Project were to promote the Gallipolis Downtown Area, provide a family friendly event for everyone to enjoy and to increase awareness of the Digital River Project. To suggest they succeeded on all fronts would be an epic understatement.

The Staff, Management and Owners of Courtside would like to thank all those responsible for taking an idea and turning it into an extremely well run event that was enjoyed by everyone who attended. In spite of challenging weather conditions, players who played in age brackets ranging from small children to adults were treated to a world class tournament and a festival like atmosphere that provided many activities off the courts for both big and little people to enjoy. Most importantly, this group of volunteers achieved their goals and quite effectively showcased the beauty of the Gallipolis downtown area. Having had the opportunity to talk with many who were in attendance we can confirm, without question, that your efforts were both appreciated and enjoyed.

Thanks again to the Board of Directors of the Digital River Project, the organizers of the Digital Hoop Project and to the many volunteers who donated time and effort. When it comes to setting an example for selflessness in doing the right things for the right reasons, you have set the bar very high. Your influence on this community is acknowledged and appreciated.”

Hoop Project07On Sunday, the tournament was moved indoors at Gallia Academy Middle School and Gallipolis Developmental Center (GDC) due to weather issues.

“We had a rain contingency plan, but learned how to better execute the plan and will be prepared for inclement weather in the years to follow,” said Barnes. “Despite the rain, I was thrilled with the turnout and enjoyed watching our town come to life around a sport that I have loved since grade school.  I am so honored to have been a part of this great event for our community.”

For the initial Hoop Project tournament, Pugh was unsure what kind of response it would receive.

“The response we had for the initial year was amazing.  I have played basketball my whole life and traveled to play in tournaments like this one.  I wanted to provide a much-needed recreational opportunity for the youth and adults of this area,” said Pugh. “I took my experiences over the years and tried to incorporate the best of them into The Hoop Project.   With the inaugural tournament over, I am reflecting on the improvements and ready to make next year even better.  My hope is The Hoop Project will become the premier 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Southern Ohio.”

Participants ranged from 10 to 36 years and older, with the largest division being the Men’s 19-36 and the Men’s Open Divisions.   However, the highlight of the tournament was the final game for the Boys Age 11-12 division, held Sunday at GAMS.  The sportsmanship and passion for the game the players displayed caught the attention of the entire audience.  The audience was also engaged during the 3 Point Shoot Out and the Dunk Contest sponsored by Rio Grande Community College.

“I hope we can grow the youth brackets next year and draw from all the talent in the area from the schools.”   Some area youth were excited about the opportunity to play in a tournament in their backyards,” said Pugh. “Teammates at Gallia Academy, Reid Eastman and Wade Jarrell have traveled to similar tournaments all over the area through their careers.  Both commented that “we are finally having something in our hometown and we didn’t have to travel away to play basketball.””

Hoop Project04Organizers Barnes and Pugh enlisted the help of Earl Thomas, former coach at The University of Rio Grande and Jim Osborne, former coach of Gallia Academy High School, for the Hoop Project. With over 60 years of combined coaching experience, Osborne & Thomas were instrumental in the organization of the tournament; rules, acquisition of referees, and both served as oversight on all the courts to control the games.

Barnes said “without the help of Thomas and Osborne along with assistance from Brett Bostic, we could not have pulled off this tournament.   The City of Gallipolis and City Manager Randy Finney were a huge help to the project as well, we cannot thank any of them enough.”

The Digital River Project Board President, Jimmy Wiseman, noted “We are very happy to provide this opportunity for our community and hope all our efforts continue to improve our downtown.”  Pugh added, “I hope that the success of this event will inspire someone to be innovative with ways they can help the community grow and be a great place to live.   This event was organized by volunteers, let this be an example of how volunteering can impact the town.   We will need additional volunteers as this event continues to grow.  I hope we have courts down State and Court streets next year because we have so many teams.”

For more information on being involved with the Hoop Project or the Digital River Project, visit www.digitalriverproject.org or contact Robbie Pugh at Robbie@rocketvii.com.  The Digital River Project encourages the community to shop, dine, & enjoy #galliafirst.

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