LUBBOCK, Texas – Amid the current travel woes nationwide, the big Caprock Classic is said to tip off Thursday in Lubbock. However, some teams have had to take on the challenges of flying Southwest leading up to the classic.
This was the biggest year yet for organizers, with 116 teams competing from all over the world. One association brought four teams to the Hub City all the way from Melbourne, Australia.
The Diamond Valley Eagles have two girls’ teams and two boys’ teams in the tournament, and head coach David Quinn said their trip didn’t go as smoothly as they had hoped.
“We left Melbourne Boxing Day, our time, then we traveled five hours to Fiji, we jumped on a flight from Fiji to LA,” he explained. After 15 hours of flying, and 6 hours stuck in LAX, Quinn and the teams found a different form of travel into West Texas.
“We arrived 9:30 [Wednesday morning] after about 22 hours on a bus, and no sleep,” Quinn said.
Mitchell and Sam, both players for the Eagles, said they were relieved to have a bed to sleep in and that they arrived safely.
Quinn said they were in the U.S. for various tours across the country. After the three-day tournament, they’ll all head to Dallas and then back to Los Angeles, among other locations, to explore.
“We go to Disneyland, do some tours of some colleges, go to some NBA games, and do some shopping,” Sam explained.
But before all of that, these Aussie teams will have the chance to play in the world’s largest basketball tournament.
Gary Johnson, the tournament director said, “This year, we had the most interest ever; we had teams registering back in August before school started. They signed a contract, they’re guaranteed four games, and there’s no entry fee.”
For about six decades, members of Lubbock Caprock charter AMBUCS have used this tournament as a fundraiser. They strive to help people with disabilities to have mobility.
“What everybody sees is those AM-Trykes. The AM-Trykes run between $600 and $1200; They are specially made and they’re adapted for people with disabilities whether they need upper body strength or lower strength or both,” Johnson explained.
Preparation for the tournament starts at the beginning of the year, getting sponsors lined up, contracts sent out, and reaching out to teams. “It helps out the Lubbock economy, it helps out the teams because they get guaranteed games,” Johnson added.
And while getting here wasn’t an easy layup for the Eagles, Quinn said that their good bunch of boys and girls made the trip easier.
The tournament starts Thursday and will run through Saturday at various Lubbock school locations. For more information, visit the Caprock Classic website.