The 2010 iHoops Skills Challenge has just started, but records already are being broken.
The growing popularity of the event has led to more and more participants--and more and more organizers. At the end of January, close to 800 organizations had committed to host a Skills Challenge local event in 2010. That tops the final count of 725 hosts in 2009, and crushes the total of 325 hosts from the inaugural year in 2008.
More than 100,000 youth basketball players competed in the Skills Challenge in 2009. The final numbers aren't back yet for 2010, but it's expected to top that.
"We are very pleased with the response from the youth basketball community to the iHoops Skills Challenge," iHoops CEO Kevin Weiberg said. "Overall participation numbers have exceeded our goals and we have a very good balance of local sites across the country.
"We are very encouraged by the interest and the groups and organizations that have embraced the event."
The Skills Challenge enters its third year and is now under the iHoops umbrella, after two years affiliated with the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA. It is a free competition for players ages 9-14 that stresses basketball fundamentals--passing, shooting and dribbling.
It's Not Too Late!
Check out the iHoops Skills Challenge section to locate an event near you.
How popular is the event? At Skills Challenge Headquarters, 750 administrative kits were put together for local organizers, containing a handbook, cones, a stopwatch, floor spots and ribbons, among other things.
Those were quickly gobbled up--but the demand continued. So Skills Challenge Headquarters ordered additional award ribbons and sent them out to hosts. While the organizers just now signing up won't get the full administrative kit, they will still have ribbons to pass out and still are considered an "official" Skills Challenge local event. They can also access all the information they need to run a local Skills Challenge competition on iHoops.com.
Being an official event means their participants have the chance to qualify for a regional competition in their local NBA market, and from there, the national Skills Challenge competition in Orlando, Fla., later this year.
Another addition to the Skills Challenge is the introduction of online registration for organizers. That has made the process even quicker for the hosts.
"It's one less step," said Jennifer Maceyak, who helps run the Skills Challenge. "They don't have to print out a form and complete it by hand. They click here, plug in their name and it goes right to me.
"It's definitely less time-consuming of a registration. Everyone is so into technology and on the computers nowadays, it makes things a lot easier."
The Skills Challenge is expected to have approximately 820 local competitions in 29 NBA markets. Local competitions run through March 7, with regional competitions taking place in NBA venues between March 7 and April 11. The national finals will take place at the Amway Arena, home of the Orlando Magic, starting May 14.