Tourney raises money for children affected by HIV

Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Hoops for Hearts raised money for Camp Heartland.

by Marni Ginther

The Acorn Ballers, El Muerto Verde and The Squirrels were just a few of the 17 teams that stepped onto the court Saturday at Williams Arena to raise money for children impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Hoops for Hearts is Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity’s annual basketball tournament to raise money for Camp Heartland. Located in Willow River, the camp provides a place where children with HIV/AIDS in their lives can connect.

“These kids are living day to day with HIV, whether in their bodies or their families,” said Sarah Mollet, the camp’s community fundraising coordinator.

Nationally, the main cause Sigma Phi Epsilon works for is youth AIDS. As part of that effort, the University chapter donates all money raised through the year to Camp Heartland.

Mollet, a University alumna, said events organized at universities and colleges are the camp’s top source for funding and new camp counselors.

Construction management and architecture senior Nick Scanlon acted as Sigma Phi Epsilon’s coordinator for the event. He said this is the fraternity’s sixth year organizing the tournament.

This year, Scanlon said, he wanted to make the event as big as possible. By holding the event at Williams Arena, he hoped to draw more people and more attention to the community service that a lot of fraternities and sororities do.

“The general public doesn’t always know about the good we do,” Scanlon said. “They mostly hear about the bad – like drinking and hazing.”

Paul Peterson, a graduate student in the school of dentistry, helped organize the fraternity’s first Hoops for Hearts tournament in 2000. In its earlier years, Peterson said, the event drew about 32 teams, as opposed to this year’s 17.

Although there were not as many people as in years past, the event did draw teams like the Primetime Ballers from Hamline University.

“It was posted all over,” said Brandon Johnson, a Hamline sophomore. “We just wanted to play and support the cause.”

Teams also came from the University of St. Thomas and St. Cloud State University.

Aside from organizing the event, Mollet and Scanlon also played in the tournament.

Political science and French sophomore Elizabeth Larson joined Mollet to form Team Potato. Both of them had played basketball competitively in high school. But Potato’s third member, graphic design senior Jessica Ehrlich, said, “This is the first time I’ve ever played basketball competitively.”

Although Team Potato lost both games they played, the women spent more time making plans for next year’s event than talking about their losses.

Marketing junior Irene Fernando of The Squirrels summed up the teams’ attitudes toward the tournament.

“It’s pretty much just friends playing friends,” she said.

Scanlon estimated the event raised $2,000 for Camp Heartland, “We’re looking forward to making it bigger and better next year,” he said.