DRAFFENVILLE – Competing in the Merv Lopes Hoops Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, in December will be a special treat for the Lady Marshals basketball team, but traveling to the 50th state will be an expensive undertaking.
Coach Joseph Simmons estimated the cost at between $35,000 and $40,000, and emphasized that the cost will be paid by fundraising efforts by the team and its supporters.
“No school funds will be used,” Simmons said, acknowledging the tight budgets that have resulted from the ongoing economic malaise.
But Simmons is confident the funds will be raised, and that it will be worth the effort to raise them.
“This will be a good thing, a program builder,” Simmons said. “We wanted to reward the girls who have been with the program and have worked to get Marshall County back to the top of the region.”
Marshall County captured the First Region title last year in Simmons’ second season as head coach.
Among the fundraising events in the works is an Oct. 13 game between local celebrity talent and the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. Simmons said former Lady Marshal standouts such as Mary Taylor Cowles and Rechelle Turner are potential players.
Former NBA player Dan Langhi, a standout at MCHS and at Vanderbilt University, said he is hoping to keep his calendar clear to participate. The 6-11 Langhi is the Lady Marshals’ volleyball coach.
Meal sponsors are being solicited, with four levels of contributions – bronze ($250, which covers breakfast for the team members for one day), silver ($350, lunch), gold ($500, dinner) and platinum ($1,000, for a day’s meals).
Leon Riley Ford has announced a program, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11, which will contribute as much as $6,000 by paying $20 to the fundraising effort for each test drive of a new vehicle. The promotion will be held at the high school parking lot from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Simmons said the Lopes Classic features four to six teams from the Islands and two to four teams from the mainland. The event is presented by St. Francis School of Honolulu and includes a girls’ tournament the week before Christmas and a boys’ tournament the next week.
Participating teams will play in four games.