Now that the Alpena Community College basketball season is over, both teams can relax, look forward to the next season and have some fun.
One way that the ACC teams have had fun for the last 16 years is the annual Fun Night game, which sees Pied Piper's top Special Olympic players competing with and against the ACC teams.
The game will take place at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Park Arena. Tickets are three dollars each.
The game is a fundraiser for Pied Piper's Special Olympics basketball team and has been a source of fun and enjoyment for the community since its debut.
"Bobby's (ACC women's coach Bobby Allen) team volunteers for the event and he even gets players coming back that have already graduated. Both our special teams (the Hawks and the Falcons) compete and we do what we can to accommodate everybody," Pied Piper teacher and basketball coach Brett Burke said.
The teams are generally mixed in with the men and women teams evenly. Everybody gets a chance to play and everybody gets a chance to take a shot at the basket.
What: Basketball game featuring ACC and Pied Piper Special Olympics basketball teams
When: 5:30 p.m., tonight
Where: Park Arena; Tickets are three dollars each
Allen is one of the big components of putting together the game each year. Not only does he help organize the event logistically, he also coaches the girls team and even referees each game.
"It's always such a fun game and we always look forward to it each year. There's always a huge turnout every year. Sometimes I think more people show up for this game than do our games," Allen said with a laugh.
The games are often very close and goofy plays are utilized to make the event even more fun for everybody and it has proven to be very successful.
"At least a few hundred people show up every year and we've raised a 1,000 to 1,200 dollars in the past. It helps the team buy uniforms and cover other game expenses and costs," Burke said.
Beyond the fun of the actual game, there are also other fundraising events such as a 50/50 raffle, craft items for sale as well as raffle items such as cooler bags. Again, all funds go directly to the Pied Piper basketball team.
"It (the game) means a lot to my players. They don't get enough chances to play in front of their friends, family and their community and being at the college and playing really lifts them up. I also think it's a good chance for the college players to see how talented some of these players (on Pied Piper's team) really are. It's basically a win-win for everybody involved," Burke said.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.