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A Holiday ball (and puck)

More sports than you can shake a (hockey) stick at — that might be an apt description for Rochester this week, with three three-day high school tournaments, involving hundreds of visiting athletes, all starting Tuesday.

On the south side, in the ice complex at Graham Park, 16 varsity and eight junior varsity boys teams will square off in the 18th annual Rochester Kiwanis and Think Mutual Bank Hockey Festival .

Up north, at the Rochester Recreation Center, 11 girls teams will take the ice in the 15th annual Sertoma/Home Federal Shootout .

And in downtown, 32 boys and girls basketball teams comprise the field for the 22nd annual Rotary U.S. Bank Holiday Classic .

Rochester teams, including all three public high schools plus Lourdes, figure prominently in the competition brackets.


But some teams will have traveled far to get here. Among those are boys hockey teams from Fargo and Sioux Falls, and boys and girls hockey teams from International Falls.

All of the tournaments are volunteer efforts and will raise money for charities.

The basketball tournament has collected about $600,000 during its long history — or about $40,000 per year in recent years. It awards grants to nonprofit organization applicants.

The boys hockey tournament has raised close to $1 million — $60,000 per year in recent years — and awarded that money to different organizations, including the Youth Hockey Commission, local high schools, area parks and other charities.

The girls tournament has not raised as much money, but shows its generosity on the front end, giving T-shirts and breakfasts to all of its participants and granting free admission to anyone younger than 12 wearing a hockey jersey and accompanied by an adult.

"We want to get as many people as we can — especially girls — in to see the tournament to build interest in girls hockey," said David Gibson, one of 20 Sertoma 1200 club members putting on the tournament.

"All the (planning) work is done," Gibson said. "Now, it's time for hockey — as long as everybody can get here." 

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