Wild Turkey Shootout brings hundreds to Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- More than 100 people took a break Saturday afternoon from the NCAA March Madness to watch the sixth-grade Wild Turkey Shootout championship game at the Worthington Area YMCA.Packed bleachers of parents, grandparents and siblings ch...

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A member of the “My Little Pony” cheer squad supports her big brother as the Madison Bulldogs take on the Ellsworth Panthers at the ninth-grade level during Wild Turkey Shootout action Saturday at the Minnesota West Worthington campus. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - More than 100 people took a break Saturday afternoon from the NCAA March Madness to watch the sixth-grade Wild Turkey Shootout championship game at the Worthington Area YMCA.
Packed bleachers of parents, grandparents and siblings cheered on the players from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa and West Central.
One of the shortest players of the game was red-haired Cole Colon, who took the floor for the Sergeant Bluffs Warriors.
“I try to get (opponents) from the ground,” he said.
Colon’s speed and quickness to dodge arms and bodies to catch the basketball during the game helped the Warriors win 28-21.
“The boys work really hard and it pays off to be able to see them grow as players,” said Aaron Sieperda, the team’s coach, adding that his nine players were ecstatic to finish their season 31-0.
The teammates of three years say they want to practice more than twice a week, noting that they frequently played basketball at recess.
“(Basketball) gets them away from computers and video games, said tournament director Nicholas Raymo. “The game teaches a lifetime of lessons such as being able to compete - not only individually, but within a team and to overcome obstacles in the game.”
The championship was one of 10 others at the 31st annual Wild Turkey Shootout, an event that brought more than 500 players from the fourth through ninth grades and their families to Worthington and gave area businesses a significant boost.
The Warriors, from a town more than 100 miles away from Worthington, had to spend a night at the AmericInn before the tournament started at 8 a.m. Saturday
“Bringing people in shows them what we have in terms of hospitality and it also shows them our lake,” said Bruce Viessman, chairman of the Sports and Recreation Committee of the Worthington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“There are 54 teams; each team has 10 players,” Viessman continued. “Those players’ families will probably come along and they will go to our burger and pizza establishments and hopefully they will stop and shop. ... There are economical benefits when we bring them to town.” 
Other sporting competitions like the Wild Turkey Shootout also help businesses in the area, Viessman said.
The committee sponsored the Turkey Shootout in addition to other hockey and basketball tournaments in Worthington by paying for facility fees, lodging and referees if the event cannot cover those expenses from ticket sales. 
The business these events bring to the area are worth the cost of paying for some of their expenses, Viessman said.
“If you want to make Worthington a nice place to come to you want to have good facilities and referees for the games so people have a positive attitude and impression of Worthington,” he said.

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