Hoops For Everyone
Boys and Girls from Different Parts of Montreal Unite for the Montreal Classic Hoops Tournament
The 18th annual Montreal Classic Hoops Tournament, not only shows Montrealers the importance of competition, but life lessons as well.
As the NBA playoffs started April 16, the basketball tournament kicked off on Friday, April 15, for youths aged 9 to 17.
Not only does this tournament provide young players with the chance to enhance their basketball skills, it also provides life lessons.
“The most important thing is to play as a team and keep trying whether you lose or win it’s all about self discipline and teaching yourself life lessons as well,” said Emmanuel Hunte of the Notre-Dame-de-Grace YMCA.
35 teams participated in the tournament, spread across different locations in Montreal, including Westmount, Cartierville and N.D.G. YMCAs, James Lane High School and the Concordia Stingers Stadium. Over 480 players from Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Plattsburgh, came to play last weekend.
From 1998 up until 2011, the tournament was called March Madness, but was later changed to the Montreal Classic Hoops.
“We wanted to go more youth focused,” said Linda Bernier of the N.D.G. YMCA. “The tournament used to be in March, which provided scheduling issues which schools and other tournaments.”
Nirra Fields, a Montreal native who was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA last week, was also in attendance at the tournament. Fields, who’s played in this event on numerous occasions, stressed its importance, especially for girls’ teams.
“The guys side, they get a lot of opportunities to play basketball,” Fields said. “But on the girls side it’s sort of lacking, so for this tournament to have both guys and girl groups playing is big.”
Before playing professionally in the WNBA, Fields played four years of collegiate basketball for the UCLA Bruins. She’ll be playing for Team Canada at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
The tournament allowed her to become for decisive on the aggressive aspect of her game because there were only divisions for boys’ teams, Fields said.
“Of course guys are tougher and stronger so definitely it made me tougher,” she commented.
Nkosane Massop, who used to be regular participant in the tournament and coached for the first time this year for the Westmount YMCA Juvenile Division, has enjoyed seeing the tournament progress.
“When I used to play it would just take a couple guys and make a team,” said Massop. “Now I see every team has a coach which I think is great. The fact that it’s structured and there is a lot more guys involved makes it great.”
Stephen Hennessy, who was in attendance for his son, Darius Brown, participated in the tournament for the Westhaven Community Association basketball team’s juvenile division.
“Some of the people I used to play against when I was younger would see me later on in life and it would not be awkward,” Hennessy said. “It gives you the chance to socialize.”
The Westend Sports Association partnered with the YMCA for the tournament, and decided to give an undisclosed percentage to the YMCA’s annual giving campaign.