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Westlake Athletics Hosts 'More Than Just a Basketball Tourney'

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – The surface of the Westlake Holiday Basketball Tournament shows a weekend of competitive high school basketball that marks the season opener for eight boys and girls teams.  However, for Westlake, the benefit goes much deeper, according to members of the school’s athletic department.

“It really is a typical analogy of what teamwork is all about,” said Westlake High School Athletic Director Donna Pirro.

Every year, the annual tournament raises crucial funds for the boys and girls basketball teams.  Entrance tickets, concessions and team apparel are all sold during the games by Westlake and the proceeds raised are split between the schools basketball teams.  In the weeks leading up to the tournament, players are asked to reach out to local business about sponsoring T-shirts and donating food for concessions.  Some local businesses that donated food this year included Silvio’s Restaurant and Pizzeria and Chris’ Deli.

Parents of the players typically volunteer their time over the weekend to run the various food and clothing stands.  Pirro said the tournament has been going on for nearly 15 years now and that this year’s tournament, which concluded Saturday, shows once again the support that Mount Pleasant gives to its youth.

“It’s a great community effort and for everyone to pull together for their youths really shows what type of community we have here at Westlake,” Pirro said.

Sean Mayer, coach of the Westlake girls basketball team, said his team uses the funds raised during the tournament to put towards helping purchase clothing for the team or fund team meals.  Besides the money, Mayer said the weekend is a great opportunity to show the community what his team is all about.

“We try to use the tournament to just overall promote the basketball programs and build up some energy for the teams after the fall season,” Mayer said.

Other school organizations also used the weekend’s tournament as a way to raise funds for students.  The Westlake PTA was present at Saturday’s championship games selling merchandise for which the proceeds will go towards various programs and technologies in the classroom that the district may otherwise not be able to afford at the time.  Debbie Valentino, a representative of the PTA, said fundraisers such as merchandise sales are some of the only ways to bring money back into the district during tough economic times.

“There’s no other way to bring money in,” Valentino said.  “It’s all about the kids and making sure that we can raise money so that we can keep and maintain certain programs in the schools.”

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