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Inaugural Don Haskins Memorial Youth Basketball Tournament Announced

Former UTEP Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins is still having an impact on the healthy development of youth in our community, through the Don Haskins Memorial Youth Basketball Tournament, to be held May 13-15 in El Paso, Texas. “The YMCA is honored to have coach’s name on our tournament”, said Bruce Zahn, YMCA Executive Director. “Just as coach Haskins dedicated his life to providing opportunities to youth through basketball, the YMCA is also dedicated to developing values in youth through our programs.”

Games are scheduled to be played at over 40 sites throughout the area. “Our family is proud to be a part of this tournament,” said Mary Haskins, wife of the late Don Haskins, “Coach Haskins would be honored to have his name associated with such an important effort- as supporting the youth of El Paso. Brent and I think this community event is a wonderful thing being put together.”

Tournament play will be pool play, single elimination with at least three games for each participating team. “Being held in May, this tournament is the region’s best opportunity for college coaches and recruiters to see the wealth of talent we have here. With school seasons being over, this is a great chance for families and friends of players to watch their kids play some exciting and competitive basketball against players from all over the west”, said Joseph Welsh, Tournament Chairman.

“My dad was in the business of helping young people, just like the YMCA, “Don and Mary’s son Brent said. “As a Westside YMCA board member, the time and thoughts that go into sports and programs is tremendous. This is a competitive tournament, and I hope to see some of my dad’s coaching acquaintances looking at the fine talent we have locally. Joseph told me the finest teams locally will be competing, and much effort will go into recruiting out of town teams. I’m excited about this event and its potential economic-impact on the El Paso community.”

All proceeds from the tournament will go directly into youth sports and after school programs to be administered by the YMCA of El Paso. “The kids of El Paso will own this tournament, said Welsh. “They get the money. The YMCA in association with area school districts has operated after school sports programs for some time now, and with the impact of our tough economy more and more pressure has been placed on the household budget. With these factors, the YMCA hopes to help and support more children with these programs.”

In 2010, the YMCA of El Paso touched the lives of over 32,000 people through a variety of programs and services. During the year, more than $340,000 in financial assistance made these programs accessible for all, regardless of the ability to pay. “YMCA programs are designed to teach more than ability”, said Kevin Pearson, YMCA President and CEO. “Focusing on the core values of honesty, caring, faith, respect, and responsibility means that children and adults not only become proficient in skills, but become better people as well. Connecting children to caring adults and providing a venue where adults can connect and relate to each other is important for strengthening the foundation community.”

Featuring top club basketball teams from Texas, New Mexico, Mexico, and the surrounding states, the three day tournament will include boys and girls teams in the following age brackets: 8 and under, 9 and under, 10 and under, 11 and under, 12 and under, 13 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under (freshmen/sophomore) and 18 and under (junior/senior). “The El Paso area is loaded with basketball talent, however, much of our talent goes unnoticed, not recruited, and eventually “dies on the vine” because we cannot get the word out about this talent, Welsh said. “ I personally am committed to getting our boys and girls the credit and recognition they deserve. We need more El Paso kids going to college on scholarship. This tournament and our related strategy will accomplish this. We will engage several hundred college programs as part of this effort-as well as feature our area prospective recruits and “up and comers” on our website.”

Coach Haskins, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He was the first major college coach to start five African American players in a championship game against an all-white Kentucky squad, coached by Adolph Rupp. That action was directly credited with setting in motion the desegregation of college basketball. Coach later said that he just wanted his best five players on the court to win that game. Coach Haskins was a legend, an icon, a father, grandfather and mentor to many: His legacy will live on.

For more information, call the Don Haskins Memorial Youth Basketball Tournament hotline at 915.845.BALL (2255).

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