HIBBING — After a hiatus of a dozen or so years, the Hoops on Howard basketball extravaganza is here once again.
The event will be conducted on Saturday, Aug. 4, on Howard Street in Hibbing. The courts will be set up between Third and Fifth avenues while a large concession stand will be located in the middle of Fourth Avenue. There will be six courts on each side of Howard Street for a total of 12 courts and play gets underway starting at 9 a.m. The event’s final games begin at 4:30 p.m.
In addition, off of Fourth Avenue near the concession stand, another court will be set up where skills and 3-point contests will be conducted.
Jodi Maki, the coordinator for the Hibbing Area Age to Age program, a Northland Foundation intergenerational program that brings youth and older adults together to work on projects that benefit the community, said the Age to Age program started a year ago and is new to the Hibbing community. During a planning meeting, a suggestion was made to bring back Hoops on Howard.
“Bringing back Hoops on Howard was put down in the planning process. I went to the basketball coaches and asked if they would be willing to work on this, and they were excited about the opportunity,” Maki said. “The Hibbing Age to Age had program funding so we could help with the start-up cost. I also have an events background and so I was real comfortable in leading or facilitating the process.”
Maki said the first thing organizers did was find the old equipment used in previous Hoops on Howard events. She said most of the double-sided basketball standards (seven) were found with each standard giving the event two playing courts. The rims for the standards were also found, but she said new backboards needed to be constructed.
“That was the biggest thing because if we couldn’t find the old equipment we wouldn’t have been able to do it this year,” Maki explained. “Then we just kept moving through the process. It was a partnership between Hibbing Age to Age, the Hibbing Boys Hoops Club and the Hibbing Girls Hoops Club. We started out with a core group and worked through the logistics of it and as we got into this last spring more people joined us.
“We have a good core committee of about 15 people right now and the neat thing about this experience is that we work very well together. Everybody takes a piece of it so it is not falling on one group or one person.”
Maki said the original goal was to attract between 40 and 50 teams for the first year, and she said a total of 51 teams are signed up to compete in the various age classes.
“We have 51 teams and we actually had to turn a few away because of the time line. We had to cut it off,” Maki explained. “We have a capacity to grow so we feel really good
with the number of teams we have from fourth grade up to men and women divisions.
“The other real neat thing I have picked up on is that this is like a homecoming for some people. Our largest division is the Men’s Open Division and these are guys who used to play
in it when they probably were in high school and they are coming back and playing in it again. I think that’s cool.”
Maki said in her capacity as coordinator of Hibbing Age to Age, she said to be able to use some of its program funding to bring back a community event like Hoops on Howard has been a good experience.
“Even as a newbie in town, I am getting a sense that the people in the community are getting excited about Hoops on Howard,” Maki said. “The more I talk with people not directly involved in it, the buzz that I have heard is it is going well, which it is. They hear people are happy and appreciative that it is happening again. To me, that is worth all the volunteer hours.”
There is no cost for the public to view the competition. Maki encourages people to come downtown to view the basketball spectacle.
“One thing is that everybody has to bring their own chairs,” she laughed. “It is a free event and I hope that people come down and watch some entertaining basketball.”
To follow the progress of games on Hoops on Howard, people can download the tourneymachine app or Google it.