For over twenty years, Lutheran South Unity has been ending their basketball season by going to a tournament in Lombard, Illinois, located 190 miles from Fort Wayne, just west of Chicago. Our previous athletic director, Jonathan Schultz, knew the athletic director at Lombard so they decided to set up a four-state tournament for a fun weekend. Teams originally were from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. This year, the four Lutheran Schools attending the tournament are:
St John’s, Lombard, Illinois;
St Paul, Janesville, Wisconsin;
Trinity, Bloomington, Illinois, and;
Lutheran South Unity School, Ft Wayne, Indiana.
The four varsity boys and four varsity girls teams play a round-robin tournament, with each team playing one game per day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Cheerleaders accompany their teams to ensure good school spirit. Our boys and girls have won this tournament several times in the past. However, the main emphasis of the weekend is the friendships that are made and the social interaction between the schools, athletes, and parents. A worship service for all players, parents, and fans on Saturday night is followed by a dance for the students.
The students orignally were housed with Lombard players and their families. The friendships made and the good times at those homes were greatly enjoyed. This year only about half are staying in homes so the rest will stay in a hotel instead. We travel to Lombard by car, leaving school early on Friday, February 8 and returning late Sunday night, February 10. Between 40-50 parents accompany their children so we reserve anywhere from 16-25 rooms at the hotel. All athletes can order sweatshirts or tee shirts as mementos of the weekend that have all the teams listed, a bible verse, and the theme. Each player also receives a lanyard with a tag on it to use as a game pass and to keep as a memento. It is a great weekend of games, fun, socializing, parent-togetherness, meeting new friends, and worship. To quote our athletic director, Gene Koch, “What a great way to end the basketball season!!”