Spooky Nook brings its first event to Hamilton this weekend

Spooky Nook Sports has not yet broken ground on renovation of the former Champion Paper mill on North B Street, but the company will begin establishing its presence in Hamilton with a youth softball tournament this weekend.

The tournament — called the Hamilton Hustle — will be held Saturday and Sunday, with a clinic for some players on Friday. It will give local teams and leagues a first glimpse at the quality of events that Pennsylvania-based Spooky Nook can put on.

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“This is our first tournament that we’re running out in Hamilton, and our goal with this is just to show the people of Hamilton who we are and what we can do,” said Mackenzie Bender, public relations and communications manager for the company. “We’re really excited to get out there and start working with the local teams, the local parks and all the local vendors we’re going to be using.”

On Friday, the company will put on a free clinic for a maximum of 50 players from among the girls who will be playing in the tournament the following two days, who are seeking improvements for their hitting, fielding and other skills.

And then the actual tournament itself will be Saturday and Sunday.

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Three age groups will play in the tournament: 10 and under; 12 and under; and 14 and under. Six Spooky Nook employees from Pennsylvania will make the trip here to help.

“We currently have eight or nine teams absolutely confirmed,” she said. “And we still have a couple spots open for teams.”

Anyone interested in joining should contact Christina Aulbach, director of softball, at christinaa@nooksports.com.

The tournament will be called the Hamilton Hustle not for former Reds player Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose, but because of the alliteration of Hamilton and Hustle, and also because Aulbach always tells her players, “If nothing else, win the hustle game. Hustle more than the other team, work as hard as you possibly can.”

“This will be her, hopefully, first of many Hamilton Hustles,” Bender said.

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Teams will come from Hamilton, Cincinnati, Loveland, New Richmond, Goshen and elsewhere.

Another thing the tournament should show Hamiltonians is, “We’re not even out there yet, and we can reach these surrounding areas, and we can bring people to your town, your area and your businesses,” Bender said.

Games will be played at the North End Athletic Fields, on Joe Nuxhall Boulevard.

“Our team here has been reaching out to local vendors in Hamilton and the surrounding areas, so we’re going to have food trucks, and we’ve been in contact with the city, and they’re excited to have us out,” Bender said. “It’s truly been a full-court press from the Pennsylvania Spooky Nook team and the city of Hamilton.”

Games will start each day at 8 a.m.

“I think what makes our tournaments in general special is that we have a team at the Nook that it is their job to put on successful and fun tournaments,” she said. “So bringing that expertise — something we do all the time here internally here in Lancaster — bringing that out to showcase to the folks in Ohio, the caliber of tournament we can produce, is really the thing we’re most excited about.”

Company officials are working to secure the final funding amounts they need for the project, with plans to start construction in the late summer or early fall.

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