Volunteers transform downtown to make the YMCA Peach Basket Classic happen

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A contestant entertains the crowd in the slam-dunk contest at center court at the Peach Basket Classic.

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About 1,000 players are expected for the 17th Annual Peach Basket Classic.

The 17th Annual YMCA Peach Basket Classic has something for everyone. Whether your desire is competition, recreation, or fun - this tournament has it all!

The tournament dates are set for Aug. 7-8, and registration can be done online at www.peachbasketclassic.com or in person at the Walla Walla YMCA or Banner Bank. Please sign up early as the entry fees do increase the longer you wait, and entry forms received after July 26 are not guaranteed entry to the tournament.

For the past 17 years, the Walla Walla YMCA has teamed up with local volunteers to transform our downtown area into a three-on-three basketball tournament accommodating all ages and skill levels. There will also be a slam-dunk contest and three-point shootout for our participants.

I have been involved in the tournament each year since the inception, both as a player and volunteer. The tournament has continued to grow and improve thanks to the many people who have helped build it into the great event it is today.

The YMCA has been the backbone of the Peach Basket Classic through the years. YMCA staff invented the game of basketball so this event fits its history and philosophy.

Randy Grant, Walla Walla YMCA executive director, is thankful for all of the many volunteers who make this possible.

"This community event is led by volunteers who share their time and talents through the Peach Basket to better our community, and their efforts represent what makes America unique, and special, true volunteerism," Grant explains.

If you wish to be a volunteer for this event, please contact the YMCA at 509-525-8863. We would love to have your help.

This year, we expect to have approximately 1,000 players and another 10,000 family members and spectators, which are similar figures to last year.

I attribute the success of the tournament to attention to detail and improvements made in each successive year.

This year will be no different. We will be increasing the amount of staff and volunteers at the site in an effort to improve the cleanliness of downtown. In addition, the YMCA will be providing guest passes to all participants and their families.

These guest passes will allow participants to get out of the heat and have access to basketball courts, a swimming pool and fitness center during times they are not scheduled for games.

This event would not be possible without the support of our downtown merchants and our sponsors. The support of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation and our great downtown merchants has been instrumental in the tournament's success. Because of them, we will be providing a total of $3,000 in downtown dollars to court monitors and key volunteers to spend at our downtown merchants.

We would like to acknowledge our gold sponsors and major media sponsors: Banner Bank, Coca-Cola, Charter Communication/Charter Media, Union-Bulletin and 97 Rock.

We would like to thank our backboard sponsors, many of whom have been with us from the beginning. In addition, we would like to thank Walla Walla Community College CDL and the Washington State Penitentiary for all they do to make this tournament possible.

On behalf of the volunteers who serve on the tournament committee, we want to wish all participants and spectators a fun and safe weekend.

We have worked hard to make the 17th annual Peach Basket Classic the best yet.

Pat McConn, a volunteer, is tournament director for this year's Peach Basket Classic.

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