SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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January 2018 18 www.sportseventsmagazine.com When Matt Williams created Jam On It! Sports in 1991, his vision was to give all kids an opportunity to compete in an organized and fun athletic experience. Today, Jam On It! Sports sets the standard for the "All Under One Roof" model of youth athletic events in the United States. As a young boy growing up in Washington and as a student athlete at the University of Nevada, Reno playing basketball, Williams said the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) played an important role in his ability to participate in organized youth sports and college ball. "It (AAU) kept me out of trouble and gave me an opportunity to play." After graduation, Williams, wanted to make a difference in youth basketball participation based on his own experi- ences through AAU. "After I graduated and started Jam On It!, we had to raise funds for equipment. The fundraising purpose was because I refused to charge kids a lot of money. Some tournaments were poorly run and charging a lot to play," Williams said. "We started our own local tournaments and then it grew to mega tournaments. We went from a mom and pop organization to major events." Today, Williams' Jam On It! Sports hosts the largest youth basketball events in the United States with thousands of young athletes participating. He has coached thousands of young people and trained thousands of coaches. "In 1991 when I graduated, I wanted to grow the West Coast," Williams said. "Jam On It! started in rural cities and local areas and then grew with more regional events and now we do more national events." The Reno-Sparks (Nevada) Convention Center partnered with Williams for the first event and with the support of the local com- munity and the AAU, Jam On It! and Williams successfully raised funds for equipment such as basketballs and hoops. The event was so pop- ular, Reno wanted another year. "Then other cities came along. Next it was Las Vegas. That was perfect," Williams said. "I was the model. We worked with communities and convention centers and CVBs to host our events and with support of AAU, it gave us the clout to com- pete. We went from 100 teams to 1,100 teams in eight years." The Jam On It! AAU Big Mountain Jam Bas- ketball Tournament is in its seventh year and brings an estimated 4,000 participants from Ne- vada and an additional 5,000 participants from outside the state to play tournaments in front of more than 12,000 spectators. The tourna- ment generates about $1.5 million each year in economic impact for the area. In addition, the Jam On It! Las Vegas Summer Events brought more than 1,300 teams to compete in six basketball championships in 2017, garnering Williams national recognition as a 2017 Cham- pion of Economic Impact in sports tourism. The Jam On It! Memorial Day Tournament brings more than 1,000 teams and 13,000 athletes to Reno with an economic impact of $8.1 million for the holiday weekend, according to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The event began in 1996. Now in its 21st year, the Jam On It! Reno Memorial Day AAU Basketball Tournament drew an estimated 28,000 spectators in 2017 with more than 2,100 games played on 85 courts. But even with all the success, Williams never loses sight of his vision of incor- porating the values AAU instilled in him; his vision for making athletics accessible and affordable to all children has not diminished. Keeping young people involved in sports programs is one way to expose children to positive role models and keep them out of trouble. "My basketball team in Orlando, Fla., only had two players that hadn't been to prison" Williams said. "Antonio Tarver, you know, the boxer, and I were the only two who hadn't been to prison. For me to give back and go and see the best basketball teams play and not just play, but to have all kids have an opportunity to play was a big goal. My focus was always on the kids." When Williams had his own children, his vision became even more clear. "I got to coach my kids," Williams, the AAU Girls Basketball Co-Chair for the past five years said. "That's what I did it for. At that time, not too many people were focusing on girls; it was SPORTS EVENT PLANNERS TO WATCH IN 2018 Life is a game and sports event planners bring life to their games. It takes a special breed of individuals to harness the creativity, resourcefulness and perseverance it takes to succeed in this field. These award-winning planners exhibit exceptional dedication and spirit. SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue Matt Williams CEO / Jam On It! Sports Second Vice President of AAU

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