By Jeff Slovin, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Ninety-six basketball players, ranging in age from 15 to 20, competed in the third annual 135 Spring Classic tournament which was held May 24 at the Ellsworth-McAfee Park.
Thirty-two teams of three players each competed in this year’s tournament, with the goal of raising money for Coaching4Change, an organization whose mission is to teach high school students to become leaders by providing opportunities to coach after school youth sports programs and organizing school-wide athletics tournaments. Coaching4Change provides a network of college mentors, teachers and parents to the students, creating a support system enabling them to experience successes both in the classroom and through coaching.
This year’s tournament was organized by Algonquin Regional High School seniors Sam Piotrowski and Joe Basteri, along with Peter Berman, co-founder and chief operating officer of Coaching4Change, and a former assistant basketball coach at Algonquin.
The tournament started as an informal affair run by Nic Zanghi, an Algonquin graduate and current University of Massachusetts student, with teams comprised of the regulars who played at the park and competed mainly for bragging rights. The charitable aspect was added last year, as the tournament was a natural fit with Coaching4Change’s mission. This year, Zanghi handed off the role of tournament “commissioner” to Piotrowski, although he still played for one of the participating teams.
Piotrowski, with help from Basteri, set up a GoFundMe page for individual donations, and arranged sponsorships with several local area businesses. Buffalo Wild Wings made a financial donation; Not Your Average Joe’s and Qdoba donated food and catering; and Crown Trophy provided the trophy awarded to the winning team.
All of the players in this year’s tournament were from Northborough or Southborough, and nearly all are current Algonquin students or alumni.
“I am extremely happy with how everything came together today,” Piotrowski said after the event. “It was satisfying to see all of the hard work pay off and to have very little headaches. What I’m most proud of, besides our donation to Coaching4Change, is the smooth transition we were able to have in changing commissioners. I found that I was able to maintain the same atmosphere as last year and still have 96 players even in a transitional year. Overall it was a fantastic day and I am extremely grateful to those who helped me and the companies that sponsored us.”
Piotrowski will be attending the University of Delaware in the fall.