Mak­ing a slam-dunk to ben­e­fit Maui young­sters

The Maui News - - SPORTS -

he La­haina Civic Cen­ter will come alive with the sounds of cheers, bounc­ing bas­ket­balls and sneak­ers squeak­ing on the hard­wood floor when the Maui Jim Maui Clas­sic, an NCAA Divi­sion I women’s col­lege bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment, tips off on Fri­day, Dec 14 and Sat­ur­day, Dec. 15.

Now in its third year, the an­nual tour­na­ment will be hosted by bas­ket­bal­lMAUI in part­ner­ship with the Ore­gon State women’s bas­ket­ball team, which is cur­rently ranked No. 8 in the na­tion. Texas A&M Univer­sity (ranked No. 20) will also take the court, along with Eastern Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity and Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side.

“As far as I know, Maui has never hosted two na­tion­ally ranked women’s teams to com­pete against each other, which is very ex­cit­ing for bas­ket­ball fans on the is­land,” said bas­ket­bal­lMAUI founder Ben Prangnell.

And there will be plenty of ex­cite­ment off the court, too. While they’re here on Maui, th­ese col­lege ath­letes will pay a visit to sev­eral el­e­men­tary schools to un­der­score the win­ning com­bi­na­tion of

Ta­ca­demics and ath­let­ics.

“The mis­sion of the tour­na­ment is to in­spire Maui youth in their ed­u­ca­tional and ath­letic as­pi­ra­tions,” Prangnell ex­plained. “Each team will be vis­it­ing some of our lo­cal el­e­men­tary schools to par­tic­i­pate in read-alouds with the chil­dren, and spend time shar­ing their ath­letic and ed­u­ca­tional jour­neys and the im­por­tance of read­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.”

It’s some­thing Re­al­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of Maui mem­bers Ly­dia Pe­dro and Alana Rucyn­ski of the Top Maui Homes team of Wailea Realty Corp. A Bou­tique of Win­der­mere Real Es­tate have been look­ing for­ward to all year. Both serve on bas­ket­bal­lMAUI’s board of di­rec­tors; they have been in­volved with the all-vol­un­teer, donor-funded 501(c)3 non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion since its in­cep­tion in 2010.

Bas­ket­bal­lMAUI’s mis­sion is to give youth an op­por­tu­nity to pre­pare for suc­cess, both on and off the court. Ev­ery year, thou­sands of pub­lic and pri­vate school stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in bas­ket­bal­lMAUI’s sum­mer camps, clin­ics and school as­sem­blies, which are fo­cused on bas­ket­ball skills and ath­letic, char­ac­ter and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. And the best part? No child has ever been ex­cluded from bas­ket­bal­lMAUI’s pro­grams for lack of fi­nan­cial re­sources.

In June, hun­dreds of youth ages 7 to 18 took part in the ninth an­nual week­long bas­ket­bal­lMAUI camp at the War Memo­rial Gym in Wailuku. For­mer and ac­tive col­lege bas­ket­ball play­ers and coaches of all stripes (in­clud­ing NCAA Divi­sion I coaches) guided campers through po­si­tion-spe­cific train­ing, per­sonal train­ing, life skills devel­op­ment and chal­lenge groups, plac­ing an em­pha­sis on en­thu­si­asm, lead­er­ship and team­work.

“None of this would be pos­si­ble with­out our lo­cal spon­sors and vol­un­teers to which we are so grate­ful,” Prangnell said.

One of those spon­sors is Wailea Realty Corp. A Bou­tique of Win­der­mere Real Es­tate.

“Ly­dia and Alana’s sup­port along­side the Wailea Realty team since our in­cep­tion has been one of the pil­lars to con­tinue to see our im­pact and sup­port of Maui youth grow,” he said.

Pe­dro has seen first­hand the pos­i­tive im­pact of bas­ket­bal­lMAUI and en­cour­ages all res­i­dents to con­sider at­tend­ing this year’s Maui Jim Maui Clas­sic.

“The rea­son I think that peo­ple should come to this event is that th­ese women are here to sup­port our kids by vis­it­ing them at school, read­ing to them and be­ing good role mod­els,” she said. “We need to sup­port them as they sup­port our kids.”

Rucyn­ski agrees whole­heart­edly.

“Peo­ple should come to the Maui Clas­sic be­cause th­ese ladies of col­lege bas­ket­ball have some ma­jor skills!” she said. “Their ath­leti­cism on the court is amaz­ing and their hearts for our keiki when they visit our schools is so amaz­ing.”

And you don’t have to be a bas­ket­ball afi­cionado to en­joy the two-day tour­na­ment.

“This is a great fam­i­lyfriendly week­end for all to en­joy,” Rucyn­ski said.

Tick­ets for the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Clas­sic are on sale now. Tick­ets are $10 per per­son per day. A por­tion of the pro­ceeds will ben­e­fit par­tic­i­pat­ing el­e­men­tary school li­braries, bas­ket­bal­lMAUI’s sports pro­grams and other lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions.

There will be two ac­tion­packed games on each day, food trucks, op­por­tu­ni­ties to win a pair of Maui Jim sun­glasses, and a chance to win a lux­ury stay­ca­tion pack­age at the Hy­att Re­gency Maui Re­sort & Spa. To pur­chase tick­ets, visit www.bas­ket­ball maui.com/maui-clas­sic.

For more in­for­ma­tion about bas­ket­bal­lMAUI and its pro­grams, visit www.bas­ket­ball maui.com. To in­quire about fu­ture spon­sor­ship or donor op­por­tu­ni­ties, email Pe­dro at Ly­dia@top­maui­homes.com.

Bas­ket­bal­lMAUI founder Ben Prangnell (cen­ter) poses with RAM mem­bers (from left) Ly­dia Pe­dro, Brad MacArthur, Alana Rucyn­ski and Tom Tezak of Wailea Realty Corp. A Bou­tique of Win­der­mere Real Es­tate, spon­sor of the third an­nual Maui Jim Maui Clas­sic tour­na­ment.

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