The Plant City Recreation and Parks Department/Optimist Club’s annual Tri-Star skills competition will be held Jan. 20.
The Tri-Star Basketball Skills Competition is more than just a way for Plant City youths to secure themselves a pizza party.
The three-part event, which tests kids’ shooting, passing and dribbling skills, has been a fixture in Plant City for 45 seasons thanks to the efforts of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department and Optimist Club. It’s always given kids the chance to put their skills to the test for some friendly competition in a stress-free environment.
“The kids are trying to do their best and enjoying it, having fun with it,” department director Jack Holland said.
This year’s competition will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 20 at Tomlin Middle School’s gymnasium, located at the corner of West Oak Avenue and North Edwards Street, and doors will open for registration at 12:45 p.m. The event typically averages 50 to 60 competitors and had exactly 50 in 2017, Holland said. As always, there is no cost to sign up.
Boys and girls age 8 to 13, divided into separate age groups, will compete for a total of 36 trophies for first, second and third place. In the shooting event, players try to nail as many shots as they can from the free throw line and outside the key. The passing event tests players’ ability to throw accurate chest and bounce passes with targets to hit, which award points upon contact. The dribbling event challenges players to weave through a line of cones as quickly as possible without missing or knocking over any cones. In the event of a tie, players will try to break it with a competition in one of the events.
And, of course, there’s the possibility of pizza — the team (or teams) from the city’s youth league with the most participants, with all members wearing their uniforms, will win a pizza party. Any team with 100% attendance will automatically get the pizza party and “tiebreakers” for those with less than full attendance will come down to which team has the most total points scored by members in uniform.
The basketball competition is one of three annual Tri-Star events sponsored by the city and the Optimists. They also host a soccer skills competition in the spring and a punt, pass and kick football competition in the fall.
Holland, who has worked for Plant City since 1977 and is president of the Optimist Club, has long had a hand in organizing the Tri-Star competitions. He said his favorite thing about the event is that they give kids the opportunity to shine on the court and enjoy themselves.
“You see players that might not be all-stars, but they’ll go out there and make their competition shots … and be totally thrilled about it,” Holland said.