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Wild Turkey Shoot Out this weekend

WORTHINGTON -- It’s one of the last youth basketball tournaments of the winter, and for the players it’s their chance to go out with a bang.

For basketball fans, it’s an all-day extravaganza close to home. For families, it’s a fun-filled weekend.

The Wild Turkey Shoot Out is back in Worthington on Saturday, and the basketball will be everywhere around town. Games will be played at Prairie Elementary, the middle school, the high school, at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, at the YMCA, and at the American Reformed Church.

Be careful where you go. You’re likely to bump into a young basketball player.

There are 48 squads, representing many different communities, entered in the 2019 tournament, which marks its 34th year. Tournament director CJ Nelson has the event boiled down to eight 4th-grade teams, four 5th-grade teams, eight 6th-grade teams, eight 7th-grade teams, 12 8th-grade teams and eight 9th-grade teams.

“For me, I’m going to be able to see a whole lot of basketball on that day, and you’ll get to see it at a lot of different levels,” said Nelson. “You get to see what a fourth-grade team is like, what an eighth-grade team is like. For kids, it’s about playing with your buddies. You play basketball, you get to hang out with your friends. What can be better than that?”

Nicholas Raymo, who for several years has served as tournament director, handed the baton off to Nelson this year. The tournament is a big fundraiser for the Worthington Sports and Recreation Committee which supports a wide variety of sports in the Worthington Area, but Raymo says the best thing about the Shoot Out is the players themselves.

“The kids are the No. 1 priority. Gives them something to do other than play video games all day,” he mused.

And the volunteers make it work. There are typically more than a hundred of them, and they officiate, run clocks, count points and fouls, and much more.

“We’ve really never struggled to get volunteers, which is amazing,” Raymo said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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