Written By: Nicole Westfall
On June 25, 2016, WMU-Cooley hosted the first ever Tri-City Basketball Tournament. Each of the Michigan campuses came together with two teams for a double elimination tournament in which the proceeds from the ticket sales and concessions were given to Focus: HOPE, a non-profit that supports educational programs in the Metro-Detroit area, while the remainder of the money was given to the organizations to help out with future events.
Upon walking in, it was exciting to see all the teams warming up and of course seeing the Lansing Campus, our hometown! I asked a few players how they felt representing their school before the tournament started. Benjamin Kibugi, Lansing Campus, stated, “In this tournament, I’m pretty proud honestly. Cooley is a great school overall and being able to be a part of this fellowship is great. It’s an awesome opportunity.” Sam Quon Elira Sr, President of SBA, Auburn Hills Campus, said, “It feels good. I am actually delighted that Auburn Hills along with Grand Rapids and Lansing get a chance to come together to fellowship and play some basketball. I think it brings the respectable campuses together because we haven’t ever done this.” Te Smith, Grand Rapids Campus, also added “It’s a great opportunity to be able to network and meet students from other campuses and come together as one Cooley family.”
During the game I talked to a few fans about how they felt supporting their school and if they felt their school deserved to win. Of course every campus said they felt their school deserved the bragging rights and to bring home the trophy! Samantha Buckner, Lansing Campus, stated, “I feel awesome supporting my school and being a part of something. I’m a member of SELS and I want to do sports law and entertainment, so it feels good to come and support my fellow law students.” Marceya Clark, Auburn Hills Campus, chimed in with “I feel great about being here and it builds morale. We don’t have a choice not to win because we have the best players and the tallest!”
In the end, the Lansing Campus brought home the trophy! I asked Geofrey Bilabaye from the winning team what was it that he thought allowed his school to win, he replied, “Teamwork, these guys are really good. They played their hearts out so it was definitely hard work and teamwork.” Overall, this was a great experience and hopefully something we will continue to do in the future!