Sunday January 19, 2014 | By:Matthew Ondesko, Community Papers of WNY Editor | Sports
TIPPING IT OFF — Two girls battle for the ball during last year’s Wounded Warriors tournament. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.
SPRINGVILLE— “It means a lot. I have a lot of family that has served in the military,” said Kerry McGough of Mount Mercy Academy.
When Mount Mercy Academy and Springville-Griffith Institute do battle on the hardwood Saturday, Jan. 25 at MMA, they will be playing for more than just themselves; they will be playing for all the servicemen and women of the United States armed forces.
All proceeds from the daylong event will go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project.
For Springville-Griffith, it’s the first time playing in the game, and an honor the coaches said they and their teams didn’t want to pass up.
“I think it’s great,” said Springville-Griffith coach Christopher Mathewson. “We have a lot of connection with the Wounded Warriors and veterans. The response I received at our tournament was really positive. People have a lot of strong, positive, feelings about it.”
Springville and Mount Mercy have a connection that goes back years. Mathewson sent his daughter to Mount Mercy, while the S-GI junior varsity coach, Bob Gainey, led the Magic varsity team.
Players from both teams also know each other from summer AAU teams and Mathewson, from time to time, has asked Mount Mercy players to play on his summer league teams.
“We ordered some special jerseys, and the girls are excited about that,” said Mathewson. “A lot of the girls know each other from summer leagues. There is a strong connection with Mercy in general. They enjoy playing them. And, from what I hear, John [Glose] enjoys bringing his team here.”
For Mount Mercy, this is a chance to give back to the military and the South Buffalo community.
“It was a lot of fun to come and see everyone we helped, last year,” said Mount Mercy senior Allison Balys.
In order to show the community and the Wounded Warriors how much they mean to them that the team, McGough led her teammates in a powerpoint presentation in front of the entire student body.
While she admitted that talking in front of more than 300 students was not the most fun thing McGough has ever done, being able to show how passionate she and her teammates were made the experience a lot easier.
“It was kind of scary,” she said. “But I had my team behind me. I just knew that this means a lot to all those people who are serving our country. So, just being able to step up and speak in front of people, that wasn’t a big deal. I felt I should be able to do that. It was the right thing to do.”
“It’s just a great thing to do for the community,” added Balys, about the tournament. “It’s nice that everyone is helping out. And it shows how much we actually care for those who sacrifice their lives everyday, for us.”
The daylong activities will begin at noon with the junior varsity game, followed by the varsity taking the court.
Finishing out the day will be the first Mount Mercy Alumni basketball game. More than 20 former Mount Mercy basketball players will be taking the court.
“I am so excited to see everyone at the alumni game,” said Balys. “That is going to be cool,” added McGough. “I saw some of them play and they are really good players. I like it now that it is a full-day event, instead of right after school.”
There is an admission charge for the game. Because of limited parking, attendees are asked to come early to find parking spots.
There also will be raffles going on, throughout the day. Raffles will include a Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane camouflage jersey, former Buffalo Sabre Tim Kennedy merchandise, CJ Spiller jersey and signed photo, Buffalo Bisons gift basketball, signed Buffalo Sabres photos, Wounded Warrior bracelets and pins and a 50/50 raffle. There will be a donation bucket, for those who would like to donate to the Wounded Warriors Project.
All proceeds from the event will go to that organization. For questions about the event, contact Metro Group Inc. Managing Editor Matthew Ondesko at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 668-5223, ext. 8007.