Players screamed “ball ball ball” and “box out” as if the basketball game they were playing was a game of high magnitude. But fortunately, games played on the afternoon of March 27 never reached the intensity of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake felt by Haiti a few months ago.
The Pioneer’s basketball team took part in giving back to Haiti as they held a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for Haiti relief efforts. Men and women, college or adult, were eligible to compete in the tournament on Hal Smith court in Osbourne Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
“It is good because I like to play basketball, so I get to have fun and give back to the community at the same time,” freshman sports management major Noel Powell said.
There was a 50 dollar registration fee per team with all proceeds going to Christian Fellowship Missions to help missionaries Jared and Jalayne Coblentz in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Along with this fee, teams were guaranteed three games and a free 3-on-3 for Haiti T-shirt.
Play was 15 minutes long in a half court game with each basket being worth one point. Any shooting fouls were automatically scored as a point with either the referees, basketball players or defense calling the fouls. Finally, after at least three games each, the team with the best record from each pool would advance further in the tournament.
According to NAIA All-America Honorable Mention sophomore guard Eric Coblentz, the nearly 21-team turnout was surprisingly large because only a few people registered as of previous week.
“I am just amazed at the turnout because last week we only had maybe two people register and God just took care of the whole thing,” Coblentz, business administration major, said.
However, generating an interest in the event proved to be quite difficult for the Pioneer’s basketball team. In order to get the word out, the basketball team sent fliers out to local YMCAs, high schools and churches, set up a booth outside the dining hall and put out an ad in the Canton Repository last week. Coblentz said the goal was to just get people talking.
Coblentz was the point guard credited with orchestrating the event, seeing as he initiated the tournament.
“Eric had the idea and I think everybody was excited about it because I think a lot of people wanted to get involved in helping out Haiti in some way,” Pioneer basketball head coach Tim Walker said.
At the end of the day, Coach Walker said the money raised from the event would be in the ballpark of 2,500 dollars. Walker said all the proceeds are specifically going straight to Christian Fellowship Missions to help Eric’s brother Jared and his wife Jalayne Coblentz fund and build an orphanage for girls without homes.
Now that basketball season is over and school is coming to a close, Coblentz along with his church, Middlebury Chapel in Akron, OH, have planned a service project of their own. For two weeks in May they plan on going to Haiti and helping Jared and Jalayne in the recovery efforts. Coblentz said some of what they plan on doing in Haiti from May 8-22 includes building bunk beds for the girls, constructing walls and picking up trash.
The tournament is not only helping Coblentz serve God but the community as well. Students who otherwise cannot find a lot of opportunity to give to Haiti were able to through this tournament.
“You go to church and the pastor will talk about how the church should help Haiti, but as a college student it is hard to do stuff,” said sophomore exercise physiology major Ercel Mullins. “So, this tournament gives you as a college student the opportunity to help out and give back.”
Being able to use basketball to serve God is a message Coach Walker continually tries to get across to his players.
“One of the things we want our players to always get a chance to experience is…how the game can be used around the world,” he said. “The love of basketball is a worldwide thing and a goal of our program is for our players to get an opportunity to see how basketball can be used around the world.”