Hoops Madness organizer Brien Tilley (left) hands out awards to winners at last year’s event. (Photo by Janet Gala)

by Sue Ann Rybak

Brace yourself, as the 7th Annual Hoops Madness 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament returns on Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 500 W. Willow Grove Ave. in Chestnut Hill.

The community fundraiser is inspired by March Madness, the NCAA college basketball championship, and offers young people, ages 5 to 18, and adults a chance to play half court, 3-on-3 basketball games and participate in a variety of shooting contests.

Chestnut Hill resident Brien Tilley, tournament chairman, said thanks to the Top of the Hill Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, as this year parents can enter a Parent Participation Contest for a chance to win free braces (valued at $5,000) for their child.

When participants register online, their parents or guardians can choose whether they want to enter the contest. A name will be randomly selected at the tournament, and that player, player’s parent or guardian will have a chance to win free braces in the Hoops Skills Contest.

This year’s other main sponsors include Bowman Properties, Temple Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Chestnut Hill Hospital and Chestnut Hill Tower Health.

Matt Paul, owner of Matt Paul Sports, is once again partnering with the Chestnut Hill Community Association to host the event. Tilley said Paul and his camp counselors will be doing everything from refereeing to organizing teams, to providing basketballs and other equipment for the tournament.

Tilley said when he first thought about doing the tournament seven years ago, when he was still the president of the CHCA, the first person he approached about doing the event was Paul, who said, “Let’s go.” Since then, Tilley said they’ve never looked back.

“It’s just a great community partnership,” he added.

Chalfont resident Kim Koschineg Stefan, who has two children – Stone, 10, and Shelby, 7 – said Hoops Madness is a family affair. She said it is exciting to see everybody get excited – not just the kids, but also the parents on the sidelines.

“There’s an unspoken enthusiasm,” she said. “The kids are nervous, but then they get really excited. Their enthusiasm is kind of contagious.”

Stefan, 43, who played basketball at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown, said they never had an event like this when she was a kid.

“As a former athlete, I think times have changed so much,” she said. “I think things have become so competitive that we have forgotten what athletics and sports really do. They teach us important life lessons like teamwork and sacrifice.”

She said Hoops Madness is not about “the best team.”

“It’s about everybody coming together and having fun, which is what athletics should be,” Stefan said. “I think we have lost that a little bit over the years.”

She added that kids today are inundated with constant “social pressures,” especially through social media.

“It’s nice to see that local restaurants and stores actually do care about bringing kids together in a safe environment that encourages [face-to-face] peer interaction and teamwork,” she said. “I think now it’s more important than ever for the community to support young athletes. Believe it or not, the little gifts [they] receive at the end [of the day] mean so much to them. I know for our team last year it was a driving force because they all wanted to go to Cosimo’s [Pizza].

Tilley added that, at the end of the day, he truly believes “that all the kids leave winning in some way.

“Not that everybody has to get an award … but all the kids get to play and have fun,” he said. “Unlike normal tournaments where there is a bracket and when they lose they could be going home in 10 minutes. We aren’t doing that. Instead, we try to figure out how we can give the kids the most games. This way everyone gets to play and have fun. If you go to some of these other tournaments, you literally could be leaving in 20 minutes. That’s not what this is about. This is a mix of both. Somewhere in the mix, it has to be fun or the kids are going to stop playing.

“We are looking forward to this being our most successful event ever, and that comes in all forms – not just in numbers, but in fun and camaraderie.”

All players will receive a CHCA Hoops Madness T-shirt and are eligible to participate in the three-point, foul-shooting and half-court shooting competitions. The price is $18 for children 5 to 18 years old, $20 for adults who are CHCA members and $25 for non-members. All proceeds benefit the CHCA.

To register for CHCA’s Hoops Madness, go to www.mattpaul.us/hoops-madness