Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Otsego prepares for another Gus Macker Tournament

Otsego city manager Aaron Mitchell (with ball) tries to drive around Otsego High School varsity basketball coach Matt Dennis in last year’s Gus Macker charity game. (File photo)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

From Friday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 27, some streets near downtown Otsego will once again be transformed into basketball courts.
That’s when the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will make its annual stop in Otsego.
The festivities begin Friday evening with packet pick-up for teams that have registered as well as a series of charity games. Teams for the charity game are comprised of local groups, such as City of Otsego employees and Otsego Public Schools staff members.
City manager Aaron Mitchell plays for the City of Otsego team.
“The charity games start at 6 p.m. and I think it’s usually around 6:10 that me and my team realize how old we are between everything hurting and our inability to get enough oxygen,” Mitchell said.
The charity games will raise money for Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance.
“Last year, Wishbone actually had some animals to be adopted, which was pretty cool,” Mitchell said.
The Macker made its first stop in Otsego in 2015. The only significant change to this year’s event as compared to past tournaments, according to Mitchell, is the entity hosting it.
The previous versions of the Macker were sponsored by Otsego Main Street. But with that program having ended at the end of 2022, a new group needed to step up if the Macker was to return.
Enter TOP—Together Otsego Prospers.
“Some of Main Street’s volunteers wanted to find a way to keep the successful programs going forward and continue to serve the community,” Mitchell said. “So, they started TOP, which has taken over a handful of the events that Main Street previously sponsored, including the Macker.”
In addition to bringing thousands of players and spectators to Otsego, the Macker also provides money for Otsego High School athletic teams.
Through a revenue-sharing program, teams that provide volunteers for the tournament receive money for their program.
“Considering the event requires so many volunteers, the school is able to bring in a significant amount of money for each sport program that provides volunteers to work the weekend,” Mitchell said. “That could be setting up the courts, registering players or keeping score. 
“No matter how they are working, the volunteers are able to earn their sport a significant amount of money. This revenue-sharing program is great for Gus Macker and the local athletes.”
The Otsego Band Boosters also raise money by selling hamburgers and hot dogs.
Opening ceremonies for this year’s Macker are slated for 8 a.m. on Saturday, with games beginning at 8:30 a.m.
A 3-point competition will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the finals taking place at 4:30 p.m.
The always popular dunk contest will happen at noon. Top prize is $500, with $200 for second place and $100 for third place.
And just to alleviate any fears, Mitchell made it known that he will not enter the dunk contest this year.
“I will not be competing, so if someone is interested in winning a trophy, it is up for grabs,” he said with a smile.
Saturday games should wrap up by 6 p.m., with play resuming at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
A free throw contest is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and all games should be done by 6 p.m.

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