Fans, parents, players and organizers of the Special Olympics of Southwest Ohio Regional Tournament won’t have to race from facility to facility this year.
In years past, the winter Special Olympics basketball tournament was held at multiple locations, said Southwest Ohio Regional Coordinator Debbie Williams.
This weekend, the event will be hosted at Spooky Nook Sport at Champion Mill, the new mega-sports complex on B Street in Hamilton.
“It’s nice to have a facility where we can have all of our games in one place,” she said. “Before, I would be at different rec centers in Cincinnati.”
Last year, she was at a recreation center on Linn Street in Cincinnati and another one in North College Hill, which is more than a 20-minute drive in one direction.
This is the first time the tournament will be held in Butler County, and Tonja Pohlman, Special Olympics Butler County coordinator, said she’s “so excited to have it here” in her hometown of Hamilton.
“I think our athletes here in Butler County are very, very excited, too,” said Pohlman. “They don’t have to drive, and it’s in their backyard, and it’s a place they haven’t seen yet.”
Pohlman said she and Williams toured the facility before the 100,000 square feet of hardwood courts were set up. Though Williams has been back since the hardwood courts have been installed, Pohlman hasn’t seen them in person yet.
“Hamilton is finally coming around, and we’re growing in this town now. I was born and raised here. My mother’s father and her brothers all worked at Champion (Paper Mill), so it’s real exciting for me, to have everybody coming in and seeing it. It will be very good for our community.”
Winning teams in multiple divisions this Saturday will then advance to the state Special Olympics tournament at Bowling Green State University.
Williams said the Special Olympics provide “people with intellectual disabilities the same advantages that every day people have. They can participate in sports, create friendships, learn leadership. All of those things are important for anybody in life, and the sports component brings athletes together.”
Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill began regular sporting events in December and have grown each weekend. Scott Rodgers, the facility’s general manager, said he’s glad to be able to provide a space for all the games under one roof.
“The sheer size and capabilities of our facility, with 28 basketball courts, allows us to easily handle a tournament of this magnitude,” he said. “Our complex is a place for everyone to play and complete and we are thrilled the Special Olympics chose our facility for these athletes.”
HOW TO GO
Where: Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, 601 N. B St., Hamilton
When: Games are at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon
Cost: $5 parking fee, entry is free