The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Spring Thaw Tournament raises funds for scholarships, basketball program


Pat Krause/Daily Globe photo

Brittany Raisanen, of Maki Insurance, drives to the basket as Jeanna Aijala, of Chub and Sandy's, attempts to block her shot during the championship game in the 23rd annual GCC Spring Thaw Classic Basketball Tournament held at the Lindquist Center on Sunday. Maki Insurance won the title in the Women's Division 48-44 and Sam Ofstad was named MVP. Raisanen and Aijala are former teammates on the Hurley Midgettes basketball team.

IRONWOOD - The three-day 23rd Annual GCC Spring Thaw Classic Basketball Tournament with divisions for the men, women and masters (age 30 plus) concluded on a successful note on Sunday.

"We had another great turnout and it was very successful," Gogebic men's basketball coach, Dennis Mackey, said. "It's a fundraiser with the money being used mainly for player scholarships and to help the program with other needs such as practice gear and supplies.

"It generates money and it brings back a lot of people back to the college. It's one of the biggest tournament's around and it has become like a Gogebic homecoming or reunion and you get to play basketball again. It's grown and we get a lot of the same faces, plus we get new ones each year. It's a lot of fun and people look forward to it."

The weekend features a double fundraiser where the basketball programs hold a Gogebic Community College Basketball fundraiser on Saturday night at the Iron Nugget in Hurley.

Drawings are held with hors d'oeuvres being served and this event has also been a success.

"There were a lot of people at the Iron Nugget on Saturday night," GCC women's basketball coach Mark Movrich said.

Mackey said GCC also runs other fundraisers during the year.

There is Gogebic's golf tournament in the summer and GCC's basketball leagues and summer basketball camp, which attracts 130-150 campers from elementary through high school.

Gogebic's basketball programs also raise money through the help of the booster club manning the concession stand and the sale of GCC clothing.

Mackey knows that to make an event like the Spring Thaw basketball tournament work, the coaches must surround themselves with good people who really want to help out.

"It's hours of commitment and a lot of work and we couldn't do it without them," Mackey said. "We have school people, the community and family members supporting us and it's challenging and time-consuming, but it's very rewarding."

Movrich and Mackey both said the Spring Thaw Tournament can serve another purpose - recruiting.

Mackey said there have been times when the coaches didn't know much about a player, but the player came to the tournament and played well against good talent.

Gogebic had a lead on a potentially good player.

And Movrich is using the tournament as a recruiting tool for next year.

"We have a girl from Belle Plain, Minn. who wanted to come up with her parents and visit the college and play in the tournament," Movrich said.

"They came up on Friday in the snowstorm. They liked the area and the school. She's going into nursing, which is a real draw and she felt comfortable with the girls.

"I got to see her play and she will be a real asset next year. We got another girl from Green Bay and a girl from Chassell. The tournament is like a homecoming for the alumnus of the men's and women's teams. Some plan their vacations on coming here to play."


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