Summer tourneys to combine

Groups join forces for basketball event in June

If LeBron James and Anthony Davis, if Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and if Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry can join forces, so can the BTW 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and SportsFest Altoona, one would think.

Having held separate events last year at newly repurposed Lakemont Park, the Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission, organizer of the BTW tournament, and Joshua House in Tyrone, organizer of SportsFest, will work together on a single Altoona event this year, to be held June 5 — and possibly also the day before.

Joshua House has been strong on recruiting volunteers and referees and obtaining sponsorships, while the commission has been strong on getting word to students in schools and providing staffers for events, according to Jim Kilmartin, founder of Joshua House and Mike Hofer, commission executive director.

“Sometimes it’s good to do your own thing,” Kilmartin said. “Sometimes, you’ve just got to look at it, ‘how do we do this together to make it better.'”

The idea of working with one another began with a remark made “in passing” that cooperation might be mutually beneficial, Hofer said.

“Let’s sit down” to discuss, Kilmartin replied, according to Hofer.

The BTW tournament has operated for 11 years, having been held for the first 10 at its namesake complex in Fifth Ward, the Booker T. Washington Center.

SportsFest Altoona was held for the first time in 2017 and for the second time last year, according to Kilmartin.

It’s an offshoot of HoopsFest Tyrone, and it reflects Kilmartin’s recent move to Altoona to found Center City Church, located for now on Pleasant Valley Boulevard, with its ultimate destination the currently vacant former First United Methodist Church near the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

HoopsFest Tyrone not only will continue, but also will be larger this year in recognition of its 20th anniversary, Kilmartin said.

For the commission, combining with Joshua House to create a unified summer 3-on-3 tournament should help ease the administrative burden, according to Kilmartin.

“They’ve been doing so many amazing things in the community for so long,” Kilmartin said, referring to the commission’s long list of year-round programs, events and responsibilities. “Hopefully this is a little bit of a reprieve.”

The combined tournament will be called SportsFest.

The goal is to attract 75 to 100 teams, Hofer said.

That is a significant increase from the 25 to 55 teams the commission’s tournament has attracted previously, Hofer said.

Holding the event at Lakemont Park presents an opportunity for growth, Hofer said.

SportsFest could help Joshua House extend its influence into Altoona, Kilmartin said.

He’s planning Joshua House programs at the proposed new Center City Church location, he said.

The BTW tournament has provided funding for the Booker T. Washington park complex and for Prospect, Hamilton and Iuzzolino parks, Hofer said.

The money raised this year could go to the proposed new park on Sixth Avenue at 23rd Street, Kilmartin said.

Fairview Park is also a candidate for funding, according to Hofer.

SportsFest will serve as a “kickoff” to the area’s summer basketball league, which moved last year from Mansion Park to Lakemont, Kilmartin said.

In addition to basketball, SportsFest has — and will again this year — feature skateless hockey and volleyball, according to Kilmartin.

At the suggestion of commissioner Kelly Irwin Adams, Hofer may consider permitting signups from individuals and groups numbering fewer than a full team with a sub.

The organizers could then help those smaller groups get together to create full teams, Hofer said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.


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