Going to the Rim for a Good Cause

June 30, 2011

An article posted on Patch.com recapping the Hoops for the House tournament which took place on June 26


Going to the Rim for a Good Cause


The Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Hoops for the House 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Hinsdale this year benefits a $30 million Ronald McDonald House to be built in downtown Chicago.


By Mike Sandrolini|Email the author| June 29, 2011

Last year, rain washed out the annual Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana’s annual Hoops for the House 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

It was a different story at the Hinsdale Community House on Sunday, however, as the tourney got a makeup call from Mother Nature.

Blue skies and comfortable temperatures ruled the day as approximately 100 teams—with players ranging in age from fifth-graders to men 35-and-over—took part in the event held at Grant Square in downtown Hinsdale.

Each team is allowed a maximum of four players (three on the court and one substitute). Games last 25 minutes. The first team that either reaches 30 points or is leading at the end of 25 minutes is the winner. Field goals are worth the same amount of points as in regular basketball (either two or three points).

However, Hoops for the House also featured a silent auction, raffles and three-point shooting contests, along with appearances from Benny the Bull—the Chicago Bulls’ mascot—and ex-Bulls forward Sidney Green, who played for Chicago in the mid-1980s and currently serves as a team ambassador.

Ben Morgridge, marketing manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities, said all the proceeds from Sunday’s tournament will be used to help fund construction for a new Ronald McDonald House in downtown Chicago. (The Charities had hoped to raise $75,000.)

The new House, to be located near Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, is estimated to cost around $30 million. The 14-story House will have 86 private rooms and three common floors with kitchen, dining and living room areas for families whose children are receiving medical treatment at hospitals throughout the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.

Presently, there are four area Ronald McDonald Houses. They’re located near Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood and University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“When a child is in the hospital, a lot of times they’ll have medical bills, and they’re traveling from far away (to get treatment),” said Morgridge, who lives in Westmont. “Our house gives them the camaraderie of other families going through similar situations and helps them through it.”

Many of the 3-on-3 tourney participants have played in previous tournaments—some going back to the first one started more than 20 years ago.

Todd Schaefer, a Hinsdale resident, got his first taste of 3-on-3 tournament action in grade school and continued playing throughout junior high and high school. The Hinsdale Central grad has since become co-chair of this event, a position he’s held for three years. He’s also a board member for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“It’s just a way to bring more attention to the (Ronald McDonald House) charity, bring the community out together and get people out supporting a charity,” said Schaefer, who is a corporate real estate broker in Chicago. “But it’s also about having a great time at the same event. Everybody understands it’s the spirit of giving so it’s been great.”

Like Schaefer, former Hinsdale Central girls basketball star Kelly Dianis began playing in the 3-on-3 tourney at a young age. Dianis, who went on play both basketball and softball at Lewis University—she is one of the school’s all-time home run leaders—hasn’t been able to compete in the tourney in recent years, but she was able to do so this year.

“I was in town and it’s a big event,” Dianis said. “I always want to play, but it’s just hard to get a lot of girls to play.”

Dianis called up three of her former Lewis teammates, then formed a team and entered the tournament. Their squad, comprised of Amanda Morelock, Jessica Davis and Miranda Lee—who also played alongside Dianis at Hinsdale Central—ended up winning the Women’s Open Division, going 4-0.

“I think we actually played a lot of younger girls (during the tourney),” she said. “I think some of them are still in high school or just out of high school. They were very good. I just love playing basketball, so it’s just fun to come out and play.”

Area high school basketball fans no doubt will recognize the name Kevin Wardle, too. A four-year varsity player for the Red Devils boys team, Wardle was part of a 3-on-3 team that won the Men’s C Division two years ago.

Wardle formed a team for this year’s tourney the week before Sunday. It included Tyler Wright, Wardle’s former Hinsdale Central teammate and a Clarendon Hills resident; Ryan Barrett, a Clarendon Hills resident who played football for two state championship teams at Joliet Catholic; and Zach Bland.

The foursome didn’t win a team title this time around; it finished 2-2 in the Men’s Open 2 Division. Nevertheless, Wardle said he enjoyed the competition and playing for a good cause.

“It’s the environment and the competitiveness,” said Wardle, whose older brother, Brian, is Hinsdale Central’s all-time leading scorer and the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “The divisions, they divide them up really well, so it’s a very competitive, fun environment. It’s just a great atmosphere.”