News: Basketball tournament offers station residents new way to spend their holiday
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian Stevens
IWAKUNI, Japan - Teams are scheduled to compete in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Basketball Tournament Jan. 21, 2013, at the IronWorks Gym sport courts here.
The basketball tournament is an annual event that usually receives a lot of support.
“The purpose is to build camaraderie, morale and a sense of teamwork amongst the troops,” said Jason Knight, intramural sports coordinator for Marine Corps Community Services.
The event aims to bring out the competitive edge in participants while maintaining good spirits, he said.
“It's an opportunity for everyone to get together and honor Martin Luther King Jr.,” said John Baltazar, assistant athletic director for MCCS.
The tournament puts a new twist on how the holiday is traditionally celebrated.
“It is something different because everyone goes to church and does their own celebration, but this is a way to get everyone together,” said Baltazar.
The event draws a lot of attention and had more than 60 participants last year.
“Every year we have it on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, said Baltazar. “We get a bunch of teams from around the base together and play basketball. We have awards and prizes, but this year it is going to be different because it is also a Commander's Cup event.”
Although, coming out to play basketball is enough for most people, there are incentives for winning.
“First and second place teams both get trophies and there is also a most valuable player award, but for the Commander's Cup, first place will also get unit funds awarded to them as well as a separate trophy,”said Baltazar.
Although having multiple teams means more competition, too many players on one team can be a bad thing.
“We try to encourage teams to keep a minimum of five people but a maximum of about 12 or 13 because if teams have too many players, they're just not going to get a chance to play,”said Baltazar.
While some station residents may spend their holiday eating fatty foods, others will spend it enjoying a workout with peers.
“We are here to promote a healthy way of living and give people another option on how to spend their holiday,” said Baltazar.