Popular opinion has it that outdoor basketball, what has always been a neighborhood game, is
a thing of the past, fading away like the national games in other countries; here at home
that's partly because of the AAU system that takes so many of the players away from the
community; it’s also because of tv, video games, and social media… many, many things.
In 2008 Middletown Summer Hoopfest was started to counteract this trend, hosting two
days of highly competitive outdoor basketball each July, drawing players from across the
state and beyond. At the Ray Barnes Memorial Courts overlooking the Connecticut
River, what a beautiful place to play basketball!
Every season is unique. This summer the level of competition was the highest it’s ever
been, in all the brackets. There was a tension to the games this year that we hadn’t seen
before, reflecting, no doubt, things happening off the court.
In the under 15 bracket: Team “Get Money” from Meriden with Coach Sha-Ron Ellison
won First Place for the second year in a row.
In the under 17 bracket: The Paper City Basketball Club from Holyoke, Mass with
Coach Jacob and Coach Santos were champions also for the second year in a row.
In the Adult bracket: CT Finest from New Britain were champions, repeating as well,
and in the case of this wonderful New Britain team winning First Place three out of the
last four years.
We are happy to see the number of returning teams every summer, especially
among the older players who have more choices of where to play.
This summer’s DJs were “DJ Turn Up Tre” on Saturday and the tremendous repeat
performer from last year, “DJ Tall T” on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon a special tribute game was run for a second summer.Called the
“+ Energy Tribute Game” it was played to honor the memory of Tanaja Elise and Ethan
Heng, two youngsters from the Middletown and Meriden community who passed away
from cancer this past year. Our young players wore jerseys with their friends’ names printed on the back. We were happy to see two girls played in this summer’s tribute game, something we haven’t seen since
the early years, 2008-2009.
Another development that tells us we are on the right track in our efforts to build on
Hoop fest is the coaching debut this summer of Deivon “Dea-Dea” Albrincoles.
Coach Albrincoles has been a solid player at Hoopfest from the start.He went on to
Captain the basketball team at Vinal Tech, in his senior year of 2015.For this observer,
his team “CT Buckets” in their bright orange shirts had the most discipline on the court
and showed the most spirit on the sideline, as well, of any team that played this year.
Certainly a tribute to their young coach.
To all our long time friends and supporters our heartfelt thanks.Someday soon we
should hold a Middletown Summer Hoopfest banquet and share stories.To Referee
Mike Jones and his co-ed team of basketball officials, with us from the start, always
working hard; indeed, insisting on maintaining the integrity of the game. Thanks also to our government and corporate sponsors, your support makes Hoopfest possible:City of Middletown, Daniel Drew, Mayor; Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church; Liberty Bank, Middletown; Image Inc of Newington, Middletown Substance Abuse Prevention Council (MSAPC), Machinist Union-Pratt Whitney, Middletown, C A N E L Lodge 70; US Army Recruiting Office, Waterbury; Mimi’s Art Gallery, New Energy Barber Shop, (the clothing lines) Positive Energy, C.O.E., Bottom to Top, and Butta International.
Again this season Falicia Vaughters gave books to our young players in memory of her
mother Joan B. Goodwine. New this year was the donation of fresh fruit for our teams from the Long Lane Gardens at Wesleyan and the “Ice Cream Dream Truck” that seemed to appear out of nowhere and scooped up an ice cream for every player or fan who’d tell their dream out loud. What a delight!
As always, warmest thanks to Bob Young and the CVH grounds men, to the campus
State Officers and their contact with us, Officer Roig Felix who always does what needs
to be done to help Hoopfest. Without the goodwill and support from CVH Administrator Helene Vartalis and CVH staff member Cheryl Kraft we wouldn’t be able to run Hoopfest. Thanks to you both. Cheryl Kraft is another person who does all she can to keep the tournament running cool, those two hot days in summer.
Middletown Summer Hoopfest is about keeping the Ray Barnes Memorial Courts alive,
playing outdoor basketball there; it’s about keeping the generations playing together, and
keeping the generations talking. Support Hoopfest!
For pictures of the 2018 games go to Middletown Summer Hoopfest on Facebook.
Don’t forget to like our page!
To make a donation or volunteer at Hoopfest call 203-558-8094 or email
Submitted by Malik Pemberton and Tony Donovan 09/17/2018
The 11th annual Middletown Summer Hoopfest
Ray Barnes Memorial Courts