|8/3/2017 9:00:00 AM|
BOX OUT BULLYING
CCHS basketball tourney
funds anti-bullying aid
|In basketball, boxing out an opponent means holding back the player to get to the basket and make a rebound oneself.|
At Catholic Central High School in Troy, the upcoming Box Out Bullying basketball tournament is about helping out anyone who's been on the receiving end of teasing, taunts or violence.
John Reilly, a 2013 alumnus of Catholic Central, is the force behind the Aug. 12 tournament, now in its second year.
"I was fortunate," he told The Evangelist. "I had a great experience at Catholic Central. I played on multiple sports teams and got really involved" in student life, especially as a member of CCHS' football, basketball and track teams.
Mr. Reilly went on to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Last summer, he was back home, playing pickup basketball with old high school friends at a local park, when it occurred to them that they could turn their pastime into a way to stop bullying by sponsoring a tournament.
"Athletes are traditionally [known as] the stereotypical bullies," Mr. Reilly explained. "We wanted to turn that on its head."
Catholic Central was already working on anti-bullying efforts. After hearing about a local student who had stopped attending a public school because of bullying but couldn't afford CCHS' tuition, students in Catholic Central's social media club had decided to raise money to help. They created a GoFundMe online fundraising page and sponsored a Random Acts of Kindness Day to help fellow students focus on being kind to others (read a previous story at www.evangelist.org).
Mr. Reilly teamed up with his alma mater to help by creating the Box Out Bullying basketball tournament. Players -- some adults, but many current and recent high school and college students -- make a $15 donation to participate in three games of three-on-three basketball. Participants are matched up by skill level.
Last year, the tournament drew 80 players and raised about $1,500, which was added to the $2,000 donated by tournament sponsors and $3,000 raised by the social media club. All the money went to Catholic Central's Crusader Bullying Prevention scholarship, which helped the formerly-bullied student (who remained anonymous) attend CCHS.
On the morning of the tournament, Mr. Reilly remembered, he saw a newspaper article about a high school student downstate who had committed suicide after being bullied.
"This is still an issue," he said to himself. He told The Evangelist that, even though he hadn't been bullied himself, he'd witnessed locker-room behavior in his sports career that, in retrospect, he sees as bullying.
Having graduated from Georgetown and come home to pitch in with his father's campaign for reelection as a judge in Albany, Mr. Reilly is determined to make this year's tournament bigger and better.
"The goal is to raise $4,500 just from the tournament," in addition to sponsor donations, he said. He hopes to get more than 100 players signed up.
"Right now," he added, "the money is going to that one student" who needs help with CCHS' tuition. "I would love to expand that."
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