Hoops tourney, initially scheduled for weekend, takes a year off

AVOCA — The 2019 Avoca Summer Classic 3-on-3 basketball tournament was all set to kick off its 19th consecutive year as Main Street in Avoca was ready to be shut down and have a string of basketball hoops put up.

And as an added bonus, thanks to a large construction project from the Village of Avoca, it seemed as though the baskets would be placed on freshly-paved roads.

But then the spring rains came and came and simply never relented, pushing every outdoor construction project back onto a much different timeline, including the Main St. project in Avoca.

And as a result, there was simply no place to move the Avoca Summer Classic, forcing it to take a one-year hiatus before returning in the summer of 2020.

“It wasn’t my choice to take a year off by any means. The Village of Avoca tore up Main St. in late March, and the project was supposed to be completed by May. I was then informed in late May that I may have to look at alternative locations to host the tournament because the project was being delayed due to the weather and other factors,” said event organizer Bill Collmer. “As of Aug. 2, the project has still not been completed, and the streets were not playable.”

Collmer quickly put together a list of other sites, but it quickly became clear why Main St. in Avoca has become the home for the Summer Classic. Not only is it the cheapest option, but its the best one to keep the Summer Classic in Avoca, which is a high priority for Collmer.

“I looked at going back to the Avoca Central School where the first four tournaments were held, but times have changed. Back then, I was able to sign on the school’s insurance as an additionally insured, but the insurance company won’t go for that now. A one-day policy is about $2,700, which is not feasible,” said Collmer. “There was no other location in Avoca and I did not want to move the tournament out of Avoca.”

Taking the year off, however, does have some advantages. For Collmer, it has given him an opportunity to assess some ways to bring people back to the tournament, as the numbers have been steadily declining over the past few seasons.

The biggest change coming next year will be the weekend in which it is played, as it will no longer be forced to compete with Watkins Glen Weekend.

“For the first time in four or five years, we will not be going up against Watkins Glen Weekend. We will be the first Saturday in August while the race is happening the second weekend in August. So we are excited to not have that competition, because I underestimated the number of people that go and camp all weekend,” said Collmer. “Even though the tournament is on a Saturday and the race is on a Sunday, a lot of people from this area attend for the entire weekend. And that has hurt our attendance the last few years.”

The tournament, as always, will benefit local Avoca athletics as well as honor the memory of Frankie Rundell, a member of the 1987-88 Avoca team that made it to the NYS Semifinals. Rundell passed away in a car accident in 2001, and his friends have carried on his name through the 3-on-3 tournament ever since.

“Frankie and I were different in many ways. However, the sport of basketball was our bond. We attended high school basketball games together and played on a regular basis at Hee’s Park. When he passed, I tried to come up with ideas of how I could keep his memory alive and I eventually settled on the memorial tournament,” said Collmer. “The rest, as they say, is history. I have not only been able to keep his memory alive, but we have also been able to help hundreds of kids in the process.”