This past weekend the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic took place. On Friday morning, Mak, Chaz, and I took the bus from Letterkenny to Belfast. When we arrived, we headed straight towards the SSE Arena to meet the other Victory Scholars and help the SCL staff get ready for the night’s upcoming games. We started by working in the fan zone that was set up in the Odyssey Pavilion. Different schools from all over Ireland stopped by so it was great having the opportunity to talk to them and get them excited for the games over the course of the weekend. For some, this was their first time ever seeing a live basketball game!
Once the fan zone was finished, it was almost time for the first game to tip off. Chaz and I were chosen as the entertainment staff for the weekend. Our job was to go find kids in the crowd and have them perform games/challenges during timeouts and halftime. We had so much fun getting to interact with the crowd! As I mentioned earlier, this weekend was the first time a lot of people had ever seen a live basketball game (let alone a live, American collegiate basketball game), so Chaz and I wanted to make sure the fans were enjoying every second of it. We even had the chance to compete in one of the games ourselves during the championship game! Chaz and I went head to head in the sumo costume challenge. We had to dribble the length of the court, make a layup, and do the same thing back while wearing inflatable sumo suits – it was good “craic”.
Overall, the weekend was a massive success. For the first time ever, “big” basketball was brought over to the country. I don’t know what words to use to describe the atmosphere that was in the SSE Arena throughout the weekend. From the first game’s tip off on Friday afternoon until the final buzzer on Saturday night, the arena was buzzing with great energy. Sport brought people from all over the country, and across the Atlantic, together for a remarkable and memorable weekend – it will be something I will remember forever and I know others will too.
I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of this historic event. I think everyone – those who attended, those who tuned into the games on CBS, and even those who kept updated on social media were positively impacted from the tournament in one way or another. I cannot wait to see what Sport Changes Life will do in the years to come because this is truly just the beginning of something wonderful!