Game On

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gus Macker tourney headed to tip-off

The fate of Ironton’s Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament had been up in the air.

The lack of a chairperson and other organizational and logistical snags held certainty in the balance. But, now the ball is rolling again and the tourney is headed to tip-off May 21-22.

Since November, the Friends of Ironton had been searching to replace chairperson Joyce Lynd, who had held the position since Macker’s debut in Ironton. Just when it seemed no one was up for the job, Beth Campbell and Cory McKnight stepped up to keep the annual tournament alive.

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Campbell is head volleyball coach and assistant girl’s basketball coach at Ironton High and Middle schools and has volunteered at Macker events in the past. McKnight is a 2008 IHS alum and a volunteer assistant girl’s basketball coach along side Campbell. He is also a past Macker volunteer.

Campbell said she believes that sponsorship for this year’s event wasn’t an issue in getting details finalized.

“The big focus was trying to get a chair,” she said. “People were definitely willing to sponsor and we have a majority of all the sponsors back from last year’s tournament. We actually have a new sponsor.”

The City of Ironton Recreation Department, Ironton Port Authority and the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau have teamed up as a sponsor.

The co-chairs are hoping that this year’s tournament will be as successful as past events.

“Our goal was to raise at least one dollar more than was raised last year and have one more team,” Campbell said.

The FOI uses money raised from the Gus Macker tourney to fund community projects such as last year’s Sprayground, located on South Second Street.

“That’s the main thing, to put the money back into our city, because we obviously need it,” McKnight said.

As co-chairs of the Macker committee, both Campbell and McKnight said they were up for the challenge, but had no idea just how much work Lynd had been taking on by herself all those years.

“You don’t really realize everything that goes into putting on this two-day tournament,” said Campbell. “It’s been so much easier with two of us.”

McKnight said Lynd has still been helping behind the scenes to show him and Campbell the ropes.

“She was great when she did it on her own and she’s been great with me and Beth, getting us through the transition,” he said. “It takes a lot of people staying on task and getting their jobs done. If everyone wasn’t there to do their job, it would be very hard to get it done.”

Campbell agreed that it has taken a lot of support from the Macker committee as well as the community to get the tournament going.

Volunteer support is a vital part of what makes Gus Macker tournaments a success, agreed Campbell and McKnight.

“Our community loves to support our town,” McKnight said. “It’s a special event when you show up and see a whole lot of people there in their Gus Macker volunteer shirts. It does speak volumes for our community, that’s for sure.”

Greg Wylie has been volunteering for the past three years at Macker events. This year he will step up as Head Gus Buster, coordinating referees and scorekeepers.

“I’ve been watching these things for probably 23 years,” he said. Wylie has been all over Ohio just to watch Macker games.

Wylie said they are pretty well set up with volunteers, 50-60 so far, but would gladly accept more.

“The people here in Ironton are great as far as donating their time,” he said.

Wylie also said he encourages people to sign up to play in the 3-on-3 tourney.

“Its not always the best basketball players who win this,” he said. “It’s Macker-ball. It’s outside; you’re on the street. It’s a lot different than regular basketball. You just have to experience it.”

The deadline to register teams is April 29 by mail, or May 2 for online registration ( The cost is $124 for a team of four players.

The Macker committee is also getting details together for a Developmental Disabilities tournament on the second day of the event. Also scheduled for the weekend, a 3-point shootout, hot shot contest and a slam dunk contest with a $500 first place prize.

“This is just a great, fun-filled family event,” Campbell said. “We have amazing people here in this town. The businesses are all very supportive of the Gus Macker. Ironton has a lot to offer. We just have to take advantage of it.”