FORT SMITH — The River Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ inaugural 3-on-3 basketball tournament marks the return of events for area athletes after the Arkansas Activities Association’s mandatory two-week timeout ended on Sunday last.
The tournament will take place at Fort Smith Southside on Saturday.
The tournament was designed by River Valley Multi-Area FCA manager Tyson Simon, along with Chad Tidwell and Bernie Simon.
The tournament is for high school girls and boys only this year and takes place in schools. Teams are guaranteed four games including three pool matches, which begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at three Southside gymnasiums. Single-elimination draw play will begin around 1 p.m. after the rankings are finalized based on pool play.
Games will be played up to 21 points with two- and three-pointers and no free throws, and will last 10 minutes with a clock running continuously.
Currently, 24 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams have signed up to play.
Bernie Simon, River Valley FCA Ambassador and father of Tyson, spent all day Monday visiting area high school coaches and covering 412 miles in four counties.
Plans are to make the tournament a qualifying event for a state tournament among other FCA groups statewide next year.
The tournament is modeled after the Little Rock 3-on-3 Hoopfest, which was held in downtown Little Rock each summer and peaked with 1,300 four-player teams in the mid-1990s.
The tournament is also just one of many events the River Valley FCA hosts throughout the year.
Earlier this week, 120 students aged 6 to 14 took part in a 3-day soccer camp in Northside. Bill Fink was the camp director, and Northside boys’ football coach Mauricio Maciel was the camp coordinator. Former NABF flyweight and super flyweight champion boxer Oscar Cantu addressed the campers on Tuesday night.
FCA will host a Ninja Warrior Camp August 1-4 at the East Side Baptist Church for ages 6-17. Heather Tidwell is the camp director with Suzanne and Jaleesa Himka, and Nate Burkhalter as camp coordinators.
“We will have 60 or 70 kids in the community every morning for four days,” Tyson Simon said. “In the evening we do team building for high school students. We will see about 300 athletes at the team building. We also do family night in the evening.”
In September, the FCA will host the Toney McMurray Disc Golf Tournament at Eagle’s Nest Golf Course in Alma.
In November, FCA will also host the 16th Annual Jim Rowland Run, featuring 5k, 10k and 13.1 races.
FCA also hosts its annual Fields of Faith, which will be held in Fort Smith and Van Buren in October.
“We have other partnerships that we do for different tournaments and other ministries that we do during the football season,” Simon said.
In June FCA hosted the 1st Serve Tennis Camp for ages 4-13 at Ben Geren Park coordinated by Judy Saxton and Morgan Staton. A total of 321 campers participated over three weeks, including five different camps.
Additionally, in June, FCA hosted the statewide Leadership Camp with 110 of the 631 River Valley FCA middle and high school campers who were involved with FCA at their schools.
“This will be a record number of campers that River Valley FCA has hosted this year,” Simon said. “We will reach about 900 campers from high school through elementary school who will hear the gospel, many of them for the first time, and each camper will receive a Bible.”
Also in preparation, the FCA will also coordinate the first Oklahoma vs. Arkansas River Valley FCA All-Star Game just after the next school year for girls’ and boys’ basketball, baseball and softball. Players and coaches will be selected from the five-county area of Arkansas and locally from Oklahoma. It is expected that football will be added in the future.