Bearcat Basketball Cheer hosts alumni basketball fundraiser

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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A group of Bearcat basketball players competed in a tournament Friday as part of a cheer team fundraiser.

Head Basketball Cheer Coach Kimberly Barthel said the event was more than a tournament.

“People came from out of town just to participate in the games,” Barthel said. “It was like a huge reunion.”

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Four teams were fielded — Black, White, Purple, and Gold — and were placed in the tournament single-elimination bracket style. The Gold team came out on top, winning both games and taking home the championship trophy. 

The fundraiser incorporated all-star-weekend type of events alongside the tournament. A dunk contest, three-point contest, and half-court shot competition were available for players to register for.

Registration for the tournament and the side events came with a $5 price tag, and all proceeds went to funding the Basketball cheer program. The tournament had no overhead costs, according to Barthel, due to labor and services being volunteered. Barthel said she wasn’t expecting the amount of backing the team received.

“What exceeded my expectations was the participation, the outpouring support of our community,” Barthel said. “Everybody was just all in.” 

The referees, scoreboard operators, emcees, ticket handlers, and general operations assistants all gave their help free of charge. Barthel said that parent participation was a vital help in keeping the event running.  

With all the support, Barthel was still kept busy with the event. She said she was running around the entire time and, at some points, had to take her attention away from her family to keep things running smoothly. 

“When I do something, I don’t like to be mediocre. I like to go all the way,” Barthel said. “They had to hold their weight for a minute, ‘Momma had to do some things. My husband and my kids, they’re very supportive of anything I’m doing.”

While Barthel was busy with the event, Assistant Coach Dee Perkins led the cheerleaders. Perkins is an alumni cheerleader and cheered alongside his cheerleaders in representation of Bearcat cheerleading history. 

He was with those girls, stomping and cheering,” Barthel said. “He was the alumni cheerleader rep.”

Barthel said six alumni cheerleaders were present at the event and even cheered some with the team. The fundraiser was the first time the junior varsity and varsity squads cheered together as a group.  

Barthel said a particular part of the basketball tournament was the trophies. The trophies for the primary and side events were named after old players and influential people in Bainbridge High School basketball history. 

The championship trophy was dedicated to Bernice “Big Honey” McLeod. Barthel said that McLeod was a big supporter of the Bearcats basketball team.

“Big Honey was the face of the Bearcats, especially in basketball,” Barthel said. “If Big Honey wasn’t there, the game just wasn’t going to be right.” 

The three-point contest trophy was named after Byron Willingham, the dunk contest trophy was attributed to Trent Cooper, and the MVP award was given in the name of Clifford Harris. 

Barthel said Mark Ford, Eric Vickers and Jonathan Taylor were behind the dedicated trophies.