OBERLIN — The third weekend in July means one thing for basketball lovers: pickup games, music and food at the annual Oberlin Outdoor Basketball Festival.
The competition kicked off for the 35th time this Friday at the Rodney “HotRod” Cannon Memorial Legends Game at Oberlin High School.
The game was in memory of Rodney Cannon, who died in 2012 at age 45. He was a 1986 graduate of Oberlin High School who helped the school’s basketball team to a state championship that year.
More than 20 men came to show support, catch up and see if they “still got it.”
Oberlin Recreation Superintendent Ian Yarber said the Legends Game is for men older than 40 who want to participate in the festival but don’t want to play outside in scorching heat.
“It’s a way to enjoy friendships and bring some of those good memories back. The whole festival is intended to show the goodness of the community. It’s a fun, safe time and a family environment,” he said.
He claims he’s seen the gym filled for the Legends Game in past years. However, on average, he says, about 60 to 80 people show up.
Ray Ellington and Al Pool recall some good memories on the school’s basketball court.
Ellington, 48, was a member of the 1986 championship squad with Cannon. After graduating from Oberlin, he played basketball and football at Youngstown State University.
He said he’s been playing basketball at least 40 years and has participated in the festival for more than 30 years.
Pool, who graduated from Southview High School in 1985, enjoyed success in the Oberlin gym as well. While serving as head basketball coach, he led his teams to six sectional titles and one regional title.
He has participated in the festival for nearly two decades.
“It’s fun to get a chance to see guys you haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.
This year’s Legends Game meant more to Ellington than others have.
“It’s in memory of a guy from the state championship team,” he said. “And it’s a good reunion.”
According to Yarber, the tournament is referred to as a festival because it is about more than basketball.
“Basketball is the draw, but the mission of the festival is to draw people to Oberlin,” he said. “It’s to show people all of the amazing things the city has to offer — get people to our businesses, eating in our restaurants, shopping in our shops.”
“When (Oberlin College) is in session, there are usually many activities going on, with guest speakers and everything. But there’s not as much to do in the summer. The city was looking for a way to bring people here,” he continued.
The outdoor tournament will be double elimination and consist of 16 teams of 12.
It will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at Park Street Park.
Games will be played rain or shine.
All proceeds will go to the city of Oberlin.
Contact Alexis Dill at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.