Teen Gives Back to Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee through Memorial Basketball Tournament

11th annual George Webb Memorial Basketball Tournament set for March 13

CHICOPEE—Alexis Omar Montes was 7 years old when he started going to the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee. He learned how to play basketball on the club’s court, and the sport has really stuck with him and shaped who he is, as has the club.

Montes is 15 years old now, and he still goes to the club every afternoon to take part in the afternoon homework assistance program and to play sports. “I like sports,” he said, “and if it wasn’t for the Boys & Girls Club, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in any sports.”

Montes lives in Chicopee and is currently a freshman at Chicopee High School, where he is a member of the basketball team. For the past two years, in addition to playing in the regular school season, Montes has been able to combine his passion for hoops with a give-back for the club by playing in the annual George Webb Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Montes on the court with the Chicopee basketball team

Montes on the court with the Chicopee basketball team

This year marks the 11th annual tournament, a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee sponsored by The Vann Group of Springfield, a professional services outsourcing company headed by Kevin B. Vann. Vann created the event to honor his best friend, the late George Webb.

Webb was very active at the Boys & Girls Club and in his community until his untimely death from cancer at age 52, Vann said. “He epitomized the values that the club instills in children,” he added.

The tournament is held for teams of boys and girls in third through eighth grade who are not “all-stars” and wouldn’t otherwise get to play in March. Since its start in 2005, the tournament has grown to be the largest young players’ tournament of its kind in the region. During that time, the event has helped to raise over $100,000 to support the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee.

Last year, the tournament hosted 36 teams of boys and girls over a 21-day period, with hundreds of parents and thousands of spectators present. This year, 44 teams are registered to take part.

As a high school freshmen, Montes doesn’t meet the age guidelines and so can’t play in the tournament this year. Instead, he will volunteer by either helping out in the concession stand, keeping the play books or running the clock. He has encouraged other young people to play and get involved.

“I felt like it would be a fun way to help out with the tournament,” Montes said. “I’ve told lots of kids and teens from other cities to volunteer in the tournament. It’s a fun way to get to know each other.

“Being part of the tournament is one of my favorite things to do,” Montes added. “It makes me happy, knowing that I could play to raise money for the club.”

For more information about the tournament, visit www.georgewebbtournament.com. For information on event sponsorship opportunities, contact Ruth Griggs at (413) 727-3354 or email her at Ruth@rccomms.com.

To learn about the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, visit its website at www.bgchicopee.org