The light at the end of the tunnel

Published 10:45 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

The National Basketball Association may have a new rival league – and its right here in Troy.

For those that have attended an Upward basketball game this season, they may have noticed a new feature to the league.

Before every game, for the first time ever, each of the players will be running out of a tunnel when they are announced – just like the pros.

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Jason Jones, the Community Service Chairman for the Troy Rotary Club, was one of the main people to help bring the inflatable tunnel to Troy.

“We were trying to find ways to help get our name out there,” he said.

“We received a simplified grant through the rotary district that is used for a promotion type deal and between the grant and the club, we were able to purchase the tunnel.

Jones said the tunnel itself was around $1,600 and is about eight feet high and around 12 to 15 feet long.

“The tunnel is a big deal for the kids,” Jones said. “We had been trying to find a way to get something like this for a while and in the end, everything came together.”

Jones said that none of the players knew about the purchase – until the first weekend of games.

“It was pretty awesome to see the kids reaction [to the tunnel],” he said. “It was a big surprise for them and they all had big smiles.”

League director Al Renfroe said this was something the league had been looking into.

“We wanted to do something special for the kids,” Renfroe said.

“One of the things we had in mind was making the intros for each of the teams really big – and the tunnel does just that.”

While some may think that managing a tunnel like this could be somewhat difficult, Renfroe said it is quite the opposite.

“It is pretty easy to deal with.

“We set it up right before each of the games, and it only really takes a few minutes to do so,” he said.

“It is something that all the kids really enjoy and that is really the main purpose for it.”

This is the third season for Upward basketball in Troy.

Jones pointed out that there are other Upward leagues that have tunnel similar to the one used in Troy.

Each of the games are play at the First Baptist Church recreation center on Saturday’s.

The league itself is made up of 28 different teams with 210 players, who range from kindergarten to the sixth grade.

“Each of the kids that play are already stars,” Jones said.

“But we wanted everyone to know they are super stars.”