By CRAIG HARVEY
OBSERVER Sports Editor
In 2010, Sixto Rosario opened up the First Baptist Church parking lot in Dunkirk for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for youth.
Silver Creek’s Brycen Shomper, wearing yellow, drives to the basket during the first FCA youth basketball tournament at Dunkirk High?School.
And when only a handful of kids showed up that August day, Rosario did not give up on his vision to give local youth a place to play basketball. This past weekend, Rosario and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes held a five-team middle school tournament at the Dunkirk Middle School and High School gymnasiums. FCA fielded two Dunkirk teams while Silver Creek, Fredonia and the Seneca Nations also competed to round out the field.
"I believe that doing this tournament is reaching out to the communities in our surrounding area," Rosario said. "There is not much going on except kids preparing for baseball. We want to reach out to communities through FCA and spread out to the schools and show the kids the basics of basketball."
Teams competed in the double-elimination format and played two, 14-minute halves.
The tournament began Friday in the middle school gym and concluded Saturday in the high school gymnasium as Dunkirk principal Steve O'Brien opened the doors to FCA and janitor Pat Stoyle made sure the gymnasiums were ready for the tournament.
"We love the school system for helping us out with this," Rosario said. "Mr. O'Brien is excellent to work with. He's the right principal for the system. We are excited to work with Dunkirk High School and Dunkirk Middle School. It's been excellent. "
It took organizers a little more than four weeks to put the tournament together, and Rosario noted FCA will host more tournaments in the future. Rosario is also hoping to reach out to the elementary schools and get youthes interested in basketball at an early age.
"We are looking at seeing if we can expand and work with kids and run some basketball clinics in grades four and five," he said. "FCA has been practicing since September, running clinics almost every Friday and Saturday. We have practices, clinics and an inner-league season where we have four teams and they play each other. There are six games and then a championship game."
In just less than three years, Rosario has watched several youth from Dunkirk begin playing basketball through FCA. And Rosario's goal of giving youth an outlet and a safe place to be is still a work in progress.
"The area really needs something like this," he said. "The community needs to come together and say. 'Hey, let's make it happen for our kids.' We are going to start here in Dunkirk."