Feb 24, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Complex (CRC) will proudly host the 2017 NIRSA Championship Series Regional Basketball Championship March 3-5. According to their website, the NIRSA Championship Series ‘gives college recreational sports participants an opportunity to compete, coordinate, officiate, and connect with skilled peers from other schools’ and also ‘acts as a platform for professional development as up-and-coming professionals build skills and engage in all levels of learning through their programming, staff, official, and volunteer positions.’ From the players and coaches, to the staff and volunteers this event perpetuates the CRC and NIRSA’s mutual commitment to supporting and promoting health and well-being.
Preparing diligently for the tournament for weeks now, the CRC perceives hosting the Championship as an honor and an opportunity to showcase the top of the line facility along with its outstanding staff. The tournament means more to the CRC than just hosting a basketball tournament; it is also about upholding long standing traditions and continuing a legacy of excellence. Orchestrated in 2005 by the CRC’s Assistant Director of Competitive Sports, Dan Hazlett, Georgia Tech is home to the first ever NIRSA Basketball Championship Series. It is that sort of history that establishes a foundation and in turn brings high expectations for the event.
Working hard to ensure those expectations are met this year, Competitive Sports Coordinator Joshua Hamilton understands the physical and social well-being benefits participants will gain from the event. He views the tournament as almost an “adventure” for the teams that are involved.
“In those three days, a team will learn more about each other than they possibly could in the entire semester. What it does for them is give them an opportunity to get away from classes, away from life, and give them a weekend to participate in something that they absolutely love,” he said.
Competing in this year’s tournament is the Georgia Tech Single A Allstars lead by Coach Mark Williams Jr. The Single A Allstars are supreme contenders in the event, returning to defend their Region II title. They have secured the past three Region II NIRSA Championships and are looking to bring home a fourth, so they can redeem last year’s National Championship loss after winning in 2014 and 2015.
The Allstars have done particularly well over the past few years, which Williams accredits to their impressive athletic abilities and what he calls “an incredibly high basketball IQ.” He said that there have been teams that were arguably more athletically talented or arguably better coached, but the All Stars never panic or get ahead of themselves mentally or emotionally.
“My players know how to handle the emotional highs and lows of the game and they still think clearly in pressure situations. They have an understanding of what needs to be done, and always stay within themselves mentally,” he said.
For the GTRI employee, his love for the game is obvious and is demonstrated through his dedication to his team and his passion for coaching. He said that getting to see his team come together and not only win but also having fun doing what they love is gratifying. Williams, an athlete growing up, said the tournament is perfect for students like himself who had aspirations of playing college sports but ultimately decided to focus on their academics. According to him, being exposed to intramurals and traveling to play in regional and national tournaments was a great opportunity to keep the athletic fire burning.
After playing intramural basketball at his Alma Mater for three years and only winning one game, coaching a team that is as successful as the Allstars means a lot to Williams. He enjoys being what he calls a “chess master” of basketball.
“I have been able to take all of the knowledge that I have learned and apply it to players that have a greater level of skill than I ever had, and ultimately it comes together on the court. We have success, and we win,” he said.
Hamilton has only great things to say about Williams’ initiative as the coach for the Allstars. He praises him for his dedication not only the Georgia Tech but also for his work with NIRSA which began in 2006. Last year Williams was presented with a ball, and his name is on a plaque in the trophy case to honor his contribution.
“He has helped bring this group of guys together to play basketball at a high level. They don’t just get together just to play, they play to win. I believe they do a good job of that,” he said.
There is no doubting the high level of importance this tournament means for the CRC and all who are involved. The volunteers, coaches, officials, players, and what Hamilton argues is the “best student staff in the nation” have much to gain from this highly anticipated event.
For more information about the tournament please visit crc.gatech.edu.