TRAVERSE CITY — On Tuesday, ESPN broadcast 30 straight hours of basketball during the NCAA season’s first week of competition.
But that involved over two dozen teams.
In two weeks, Traverse City West will put on its own 24-hour marathon. With just three teams.
“Fund-raising is part of the situation now,” first-year West varsity basketball coach Greg Immink said. “We wanted an idea that was original and something that wasn’t done here before. The 24-hour basketball game is what we decided on.”
Tip-off for the event is slated to begin at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 — the day after Thanksgiving — at the West Senior High gym and continue until 5 p.m. the following day.
“We haven’t quite got the schedule figured out for who is playing when, but we’re getting there,” said sophomore guard Josh Roman.
The event will both raise money for the Titan boys basketball program and Cancer Travels, a local charity that helps cancer patients and their families defray the costs of treks for treatment.
“It’s really cool for not only our school and the community, but a percentage of our earnings will go toward Cancer Travels,” West junior point guard Alex Scott said. “That’s an important thing we’re doing.”
The players could play for two hours at a time in order to fill out the 24-hour schedule.
“It’s something we don’t normally do,” Scott said. “But with open gym, we keep our conditioning up and keep playing a lot. It’s not entirely new to us, but it’s not something we do every day.”
The team is trying to find companies to sponsor an hour of the round-the-clock action. In return, the company gets to send a team to play for that hour against Titans players and coaches. So far, about half of the 24 slots are filled.
Immink said the players themselves have been the ones making presentations to businesses and getting sponsors on board.
“We all were really surprised and thought it was a really sweet idea,” Roman said. “We’re working hard to try to get businesses.”
West’s three squads — varsity, junior varsity and freshmen — will rotate players in and out throughout the 24-hour period, joined by members of the coaching staff and possibly even players’ parents, if needed.
“One of the big goals I had in taking this job was to get really good community involvement and community relationship with our program,” Immink said. “This is the first step toward that and getting people from the community into our school and seeing our players face to face. As the season goes on, we’ll be doing different service projects to get out in the community as well.”
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“We hope this is a tradition thing going forward and our former players will be able to come back and play,” Immink said, “as well as people from the community who met these guys through being able to play with them.”