August 9, 2012 in Division II
The man 3-on-3 tournaments featuring players just out there for the love of the game are some of my favorite parts of summer. A 3-on-3 tournament in Grand Rapids in July had a little additional meaning for the participants, however. From Zach Sepanik of the Grand Valley Lanthorn, Grand Valley State‘s student newspaper:
On the court, it was simply 3-on-3 basketball, but this event was one of many in the 2012 Transplant Games of America that impacted thousands of transplant recipients from across the nation who made the trip to Grand Rapids to participate from July 28-31.
“The overall idea and thought of the tournament is obviously bringing awareness to the importance of organ donors and to make sure that people understand and know how important this is to people’s lives,” said Bob Wilkerson, basketball tournament director for the Transplant Games of America and a liver transplant recipient himself. “I’ve had an absolutely wonderful time being a part of this.”
The tournament featured a co-ed open division, co-ed recreation division, male recreation and open divisions, and a youth division.
And it was the gold medal contest in the co-ed open division that brought a gridiron rivalry to the hardwood at Grand Valley State University’s Fieldhouse on Monday as Team Michigan squared off against Team Ohio. For Team Michigan, a little bit of redemption was in the back of their mind as tip-off approached.
“In 1998, which was my second U.S. Transplant Games, it was at Ohio State University,” said T.J. Maciak, who received a kidney transplant in 1996 and was the leading voice in bringing the games to Grand Rapids. “We were in the men’s league at that time and we ended up playing Team Ohio at Ohio State University. The place was just crazy. We played hard but ended up losing.”