ROCKFORD - Hundreds of young Rockford athletes showcase their skills on the basketball court. It's all part of the annual Hoop Stars Tournament downtown.
Labor Day might be a day off for some, but not for these nearly 300 athletes.
Stateline kids used their extra day off school to hit the hardwood for Sen. Steve Stadelman's 5th annual tournament. He says the event keeps kids active.
"They're on their iPod, or iPod and their phone, they're not out and about," said Stadelman. "But, here they're getting some good exercise and having a lot of fun."
This year had an upgrade.
Instead of its usual home at Davis Park, the tournament was held for the first time indoors at the new UW Health Sports Factory.
"We have more courts this year," said Stadelman. "So, we're able to get through the tournament more quickly. Its really allowed us to expand our tournament having this nice facility."
"The bottom line is climate control," said UW Sports Factory Operations Manager Julius Rankins. "You can avoid any weather because, typically on Labor Day, you do have thunderstorms or rain."
The competition on the court is fierce. But, organizers and coaches say it's about more than just winning.
"You're starting to see a lot of teamwork," said parent and coach Bo Haney. "A lot of people that work together that don't usually work together. So, it's nice to see all the teams from different areas come together and the teamwork has been nice. The sportsmanship has been outstanding."
Chaney's two sons play for him in the tournament. But, both are playing with teammates they've never met. It's something Chaney says he enjoys to see.
"It just exposes them to more. [It[ makes them more comfortable when it's time to get back in their comfort zone. But, I like for them to get out and experience new things."
Those new things are what Stadelman says adds to development of the Rockford community.
"We tend to be focused in our little world," said Stadelman. "If we can bring people from different parts of town and different backgrounds and play one game that everybody loves, I think that's a really good thing for the community."
Stadelman says he plans on using the Sports Factory again next year. 12 courts were used for Monday's tournament. He hopes to use all 16 next year.
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