Story and Photos by Paul Langfellow
There was a 38-team invasion this past weekend at Coon Rapids High School, where the Coon Rapids Booster Club hosted an MYAS Winter Shoot Out. The one-day boys basketball tournament featured teams from 4th grade through 12th grade and included teams from the Twin Cities metro area and beyond.
For Coon Rapids and its boys basketball program, the tournament has served as an important fundraiser. Joe Unger, who is the president of the Coon Rapids Booster club said “we use these types of events as a fundraiser for the varsity boys booster club throughout the season.”
In addition to raising money for their program, the booster club makes use of the Coon Rapids high school players and their parents to help run the tournament. “We are using both players and parents as volunteers” explained Unger. Unger feels that having the players work the tournament is an important team-building activity, since they are helping their own cause.
Unger went on to say “I’m the president this year, so this is my first year doing it, but overall as a booster club it goes back years and we have been doing these events at least four or five years.”
Coon Rapids typically uses the high school gyms for the entirety of its boys and girls programs, and needless to say those facilities get a workout on a daily basis. “Right after school it starts—the gym is full and it goes until 7:00 p.m.,” said Unger, “and then even from there, there are youth teams that use the facility as well. ”
Coon Rapids High School has also had substantial changes throughout its athletic program, including bringing in new leadership. “The culture is changing here,” says Unger, “we have a new athletic director here, we had a great football season and we’ve got girls volleyball doing well. You just feel the vibe and the culture is changing for the positive.” Tom Develice is the new athletic/activities director for Coon Rapids high school this year. Develice was previously the head football coach at Blaine High School.
Coon Rapids also had one of its own teams participating in the tournament as Jerry Sample’s 8th grade Coon Rapids Cardinal Black team played in the 8th grade B division.“We picked this one up as an extra tournament. Hopefully more tournaments mean more play time for the kids.” Sample went on to say that he thought the Coon Rapids program was great and is hoping that his team would learn from this weekend’s tournament: “For them,” explains Sample, “how to cope with defeat and try to get through life is a good lesson.”
Hospitality House Wins
Other teams in the tournament also saw new opportunities to face new opponents including Hospitality House of Minneapolis who won the 7th grade boys championship, beating St.Anthony 62-33 in the Championship game. Hospitality House head coach Aaron Hjermstad was happy with his team’s play in the title game against St. Anthony. “It was physical, they gave effort against us, but we came out on top with good teamwork and hustle,” said Hjermstad.
Hospitality House beat Mahtomedi White 59-18 and Somerset 36-28 in pool play before advancing to the finals. Meanwhile St. Anthony registered wins over Richfield and ERA MS in their pool play games prior to the championship.
And while he was happy with winning the title game, Hjermstad was equally pleased with the overall experience for his players. “It was an opportunity for us to get 3 games in a day against some quality competition and give our players a chance for a good experience,” said Hjermstad. Hospitality House has plans to play in several other tournaments this season including an MLK day special.
Champions from Coon Rapids Winter Shootout January 4th
4th Grade C Triton
4th Grade A/5C NABA 4A
5th Grade A/B Owatonna 5B Blue
7th Grade B/C Hospitality House
8th Grade A/B Mendota 8B
9/10th Grade Tonka Boys 9
11/12th Grade MDB 11/12