UWS to host Merrill Thompson Tip-Off ClassicThe men’s basketball tournament begins Saturday with St. Scholastica facing UW-River Falls at 5 p.m., followed by the UW-Superior Yellowjackets tangling with Concordia College. All four teams will return to action on Sunday with a 3 p.m. tip-off between Concordia and River Falls, and at 5 pm, the ’Jackets and Saints will square off in their annual “border battle.”
By: By Don Leighton, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
So, you think there is nothing to do this weekend except spend a lot of money shopping, falling asleep on the couch watching football or going to the fridge for leftovers every couple of hours? How about spending some quality time with your family and friends at the Merrill Thompson Tip-Off Classic at the University of Wisconsin-Superior?
The men’s basketball tournament begins Saturday with St. Scholastica facing UW-River Falls at 5 p.m., followed by the UWS Yellowjackets tangling with Concordia College. All four teams will return to action on Sunday with a 3 p.m. tip-off between Concordia and River Falls, and at 5 pm, the ’Jackets and Saints will square off in their annual “border battle.”
UWS coach Paul Eberhardt’s team plays an exciting brand of basketball, an offense I call “get it and go.” The up-tempo style is never boring. With many new players on the team for the first-year coach, the chemistry is beginning to come together and the effort put forth cannot be questioned. After you see them play, you’ll return again and again to root for this team.
Honoring the memory of such a great man as Merrill Thompson is also important. Who was Merrill Thompson? I will quote the Yellowjacket website (www.uwsyellowjackets.com), as his biography is written so well.
“Merrill’s love of the program began when the program wanted him. That would date back to 1934 when, as a high school senior, he was actively recruited to play basketball at UWS. He was never able to fulfill that honor as a result of rheumatic fever, which at that time prevented his participation in athletics. Regardless, he attended practices and watched from the bleachers knowing that the coaches wished they had him on the floor and that fate had taken the opportunity from him. He was highly optimistic and thankful, despite the setback, and never felt sorry for himself.”
Merrill was a regular at home games for all of his retirement years and pulled for the ’Jackets with great enthusiasm from center court, about half way up. The program’s character astounded the family when the coaches and entire team showed up for his visitation and stood amongst hundreds in line to pay their respects.
Thompson was quite a man. He was honest, optimistic, caring of others and especially interested in the youth of our area. He will be remembered for many years.
“Merrill would be so pleased to have more fans introduced to Yellowjacket basketball,” said Bruce Thompson, Merrill’s son. “Merrill loved music and organized and directed a group of seniors called the Kazoo Kids while in his eighties for many years.
“They toured around the area performing free concerts for many events and meetings. He would have loved to see a good crowd making noise for the ’Jackets this weekend.”
Admission is free for kids this weekend, and UWS will be handing out Yellowjacket maracas to make more noise for the ’Jackets.
Adults are $6, seniors $4 and UWS students and children in grade school and middle school are free.
You certainly can’t beat the price. Maracas for everyone, great concessions, great basketball and honoring one of the all-time great citizens of Superior, Merrill Thompson.
Yes fans, there is plenty for which to be thankful this weekend. Happy first weekend after Thanksgiving.
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