Story and Photos by Paul Langfellow
On a day where the nation celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, MYAS held its 9th annual MLK Day Invitational Tournament featuring 48 of the top “B” teams from around the state. The Monday January 20th tournaments were held at Wayzata High School and Farmington High School and featured eight team brackets for both boys and girls, and three games for each team in one day.
In addition to a high level of “B” teams basketball, it was also an opportunity for coaches and players to discuss the importance of Martin Luther King Day. Coach Bryant Hollowell of the 5th grade boys TFS Wildcats from Minneapolis explained, “I was born in Memphis, Tenn. where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, so I can give the kids even more insight when they ask about it.”
Hollowell, who “loves” the idea of an MLK Day tournament, was impressed with the organization of this year’s tournament and came away with a positive experience. “This was a very good tournament with great officiating. The skill level and teamwork of the different teams was great,” he said. Hollowell, whose team won the 5B championship, also appreciated that the one day tournament gave players something to do on a day off from school. “It is a chance to actually tell the kids more about Martin Luther King, to reflect on it all,” he added.
Learning about MLK
In addition, around many communities and cities across America, MLK Day is a time to learn about the critical role Martin Luther King Jr. had in advancing civil rights for all. It is also a unique way to come together as a community. Lawerence Barnes, coach of the Eden Prairie 7B girls basketball team explained the significance of the national holiday for him and his team. “Bringing all types of people together from different cities and from different ethnicities is the most important thing, you have to put that above winning and losing,” he said. “Basketball is great itself, but to have an MLK invitational tournament makes it even better.”
Barnes went on to mention some of the volunteer efforts that his team was a part of for the day; “My team actually had a community service day today, so before we got here, we did something for the community,” he said. “They made blankets, bracelets and wrote letters to veterans and did a lot of volunteering before we came here, so it was a good day for our program.”
Kyra Gmitro a player on the Eden Prairie 7B girls team described what she did to volunteer for Martin Luther King Day. “I made cards and sandwiches for homeless people, then I made some flowers out of paper for sick people.” Kyra went on to say, “I think it’s a fun tournament and I think it’s really great so we can all be competitive and have fun!”
The MLK Day Tournament was also an important fundraiser for the Wayzata Booster Club. “Our goal for the tournament is to utilize our facilities, to bring teams from the local community into our buildings and to bring parents and guests here to watch the games,” said Facilities Manager Sloan Wallgren of Wayzata Community Education. Wallgren went on to mention one of the benefits of the facility is its size. “What I like about it and why we host a lot of tournaments here is that we have eight basketball courts,” he explained. Wallgren also noted that the parking is very convenient and Wayzata High School has a large concession area where teams and fans can relax between games. “Teams really like coming here because all of their games are in one facility,” said Wallgren.
For Wallgren hosting the tournament on a holiday such as MLK day is definitely a win for everyone involved. “I think it’s a great way for teams to get together, play and compete,” he said, “but also appreciate the importance of the day and everything Martin Luther King did for the people in our country.”
MLK Day Invitational Tournament Champions
at Wayzata High School
5th Grade Boys: TFS Wildcats
6th Grade Boys: Anoka Ramsey
7th Grade Girls: Jordan Maroon
8th Grade Girls: OMGBA
at Farmington High School
7th Grade Boys: Eden Prairie
8th Grade Boys: North St. Paul