Extra Effort: COVID Cup Helps Young Players Make a Difference in Community

Local Sports

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The fifth grade basketball teams at Bethel Lutheran, St. Vincent DePaul and St. Jude in Peoria all had their seasons paused by COVID cases.

They each were sidelined for two weeks right in the middle of the season.

“It was an opportunity to train and get better but it really wasn’t an opportunity because we couldn’t have practices and we’re getting rusty,” said St. Vincent de Paul fifth grader Charlie Rickey.

So when all three teams were healthy, they came together. And played games on Monday night. They called it the COVID Cup but the event was more than basketball.

Instead of an admission fee, organizers asked parents, players and fans to bring non-perishable foods to the games to help bolster the parish food pantry.

“I thought of the opportunity to play for something, the COVID Cup, but make it meaningful this week of Christmas and help teach the kids it’s not just about basketball,” said COVID Cup organizer Jim Lynch. “We can use basketball as a tool to give back to the community.

Lynch coaches St. Jude’s fifth grade team.

“At this age level, it’s wonderful to set that example for the kids from the start of their careers,” said St. Vincent de Paul coach Chad Rickey. “This isn’t just about you, it’s about the community around you as well.”

The COVID Cup games brought in 300 pounds of donated food.

“It makes me feel good we give food to the poor,” said St. Jude fifth grader Emon Lynch. “It inspires me to want to play and makes me happy.”

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