By Daja Terry
Building upon the regular hoops sessions one of its officers has with local kids, the Wrightsville Beach Police Department will be hosting its first community youth basketball tournament this August.
The tournament, coined Cops and Ballers, will be open to children aged 8 to 13, and give Wrightsville Beach police officers an opportunity to connect with the community. One of the organizers, officer Miguel Sixto, frequently plays basketball with kids to help open up new connections with the community, said officer Kassie Fuchs, the event’s co-organizer.
“It’s a good opportunity to get out there and meet someone new,” Fuchs said. “Since [Officer Sixto] already gets out there and meets the kids through basketball, we thought that a department-led basketball tournament would benefit the community.”
Each game will be half-court 3-on-3 style, and “participants will be assigned teams in order to ensure equality, to build teamwork skills, and to strengthen community by meeting someone new.” The tournament’s winning team will receive a prize, but all kids will be given goodie bags for participating. Due to time constraints, the police department will have to put a cap of participants at 50 children.
The registration fee of $10 will be used to pay the referees, but any leftover money will be going to the Police Benevolent Fund, a 501(c)(3) that provides financial support for the families of fallen law enforcement officers whose deaths occur in the line of duty, funds scholarships for children of law enforcement officers, and educates law enforcement officers and their families about suicide prevention and the dangers of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Community involvement is very important to us, and we want to just get out there and have fun with the kids,” said Fuchs, who plans events with the town’s police benevolent fund.
So far, several businesses have sponsored the event by donating food and drinks, and now the department is looking for donations for the prizes that will be awarded.
The tournament will be held at Wrightsville Beach Park on August 24 between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. In order to participate, parents must register their children at the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Office at 1 Bob Sawyer Dr by August 15. The department asks that all players wear athletic shorts and basketball sneakers. Mouth guards and water bottles will be mandatory.
For more information, visit the community events page of townofwrightsvillebeach.com.