Laurier partners with CPAC to host Junior Ball Stars tournament

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On the weekend of April 28 to 29, Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s basketball team and Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities (CPAC) hosted the second annual Junior Ball Stars tournament at the Laurier Athletic Complex.

500 elementary school kids between grades four and six from 16 different school within the Waterloo Region District School Board attended the tournament. The weekend’s main goal was to promote healthy minds and bodies among youth while giving them the opportunity to participate in organized sports.

The tournament was based around 3-on-2 basketball games where the team with possession has three players and the defending team has two players. With kids constantly rotating in and out of the 20 minute games, they not only get to have fun being active but also learn what teamwork and supporting one another is really about.

The tournament began last year by way of founder Katherine Katsambrokos, a child and youth worker from Queen Elizabeth Public School and Winston Churchill Public School. It was a one day event with eight schools participating.

Within a year, it became a two-day event with double the schools participating.

“Kat started this league last year and then CPAC came on this year … she was telling us how great this tournament was. It’s on Laurier’s campus, so it was basically a no-brainer for us to get involved and that’s kind of how it started because the tournament has the exact same initiatives and goals that we have,” said Nicole Vandermade, program coordinator of CPAC.

“It just got started because a lot of the kids in the community don’t have the opportunity to play in any kind of sport in an organized fashion. So Kat really wanted to provide that opportunity for everyone.”

To go along with the increase in students and schools participating, there was over 50 volunteers with plenty of partners, including the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, Nike and KW Titans.

As well, with students from Laurier’s KP344 class organizing the event and members of Laurier’s men’s basketball team attend, the atmosphere and energy of the weekend was astounding.

Not only did the kids have fun at the tournament but the adults did too as there was a game between the Laurier men’s basketball team versus coaches of the teams and some officers as well that had the kids going crazy.

One particular memorable moment was when guard Joseph Fo of the Laurier men’s basketball team sprinted down court with seconds remaining in the game and dunked it at the buzzer. Kids starting running all over the court getting hyped, sharing the moment with the team and proceeding to having their shirts signed.

In terms of fundraising, plenty was accomplished. There was almost $700 raised for Suicide Prevention, 413 pounds of food which will be used to serve 320 meals in the community and the men’s basketball team managed to raise over $4000 for their program.

As for the future of the tournament, Katsambrokos’ hope is to expand the weekend into a full series of events taking place throughout the entire year.

With such success, everyone involved is expecting the program to skyrocket in coming years.

“It’s just really a perfect scenario because men’s basketball is helping out to run this event, the KP344 class is helping to run this event, we’re sponsoring the event, so it’s kinda like a perfect Laurier initiative to get everyone involved and then help the community benefit,” Vandermade said.

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