LYNN– For over two decades the Shoe City Classic has created a summer sports tradition in Lynn, with teams from around the North and South shores coming to compete in the hoops tournament at Marian Gardens.
The 26th annual Shoe City Classic tipped off Friday and tournament director Simmie Anderson still remembers playing in the first ever edition, and how much it has changed since.
“Its awesome,” Anderson said. “We are 26 years in, I actually played in the first one when I was in 10th grade. I was 16 when and there were only four teams. Now we have 36 teams from Lawrence New Hampshire, Brockton, Lynn, Boston and Cambridge.
“It has branched out much more into the South Shore and to the North Shore where before it was just Lynn and Salem and teams around here,” Anderson added. “We used to have two nights now we have three, our last game used to be around 5:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. now it’s around 9:30 p.m. or 10:30 p.m.”
For the first 20 years the tournament was known as Hoganz Basketball Classic and run by Fred Hogan, who still gets involved in it.
“It has grown tremendously. It’s a great tradition in the city,” Hogan said. “We call this a Lynn holiday for basketball. People will come out here and sit all day and just watch all these games, it’s real fun.”
The tournament is divided into several divisions, including middle school, high school, college and men’s teams. Putting the tournament together starts the moment the school year ends for Anderson.
“I work in the Lynn Public Schools and I try to not even think about this until the day school ends to give it all my attention,” Anderson said. “Everyone is very in tune once May hits or definitely June 1 and they start calling for the Shoe City Classic and to put their teams in.”
Directing the tournament can prove to be a heavy task with a lot of responsibilities but Anderson said it’s all worth it to get Lynn together and give back to the community.
“You have to make sure everything is in order,” Anderson said. “From the bouncy house, team t-shirts, food, DJ setting up, referees, and cleaning up and breaking down everything. A lot of people come out and help but I take the full responsibility of putting it up.
“I enjoy it,” Anderson added. “I enjoy bringing this whole city together from East Lynn to West Lynn just having a good time with no violence, everyone getting to know each other and enjoying the summer.”
Anderson gave special thanks to Mayor Thomas McGee and Trinity Management, which runs Marian Gardens, for helping to refurbish the court earlier this year. Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano and School Committee member John Ford also received thanks from Anderson.
“Pete Capano and John Ford support us,” Anderson said. “Capano, this is basically his thing, he helps me with the donations and this couldn’t be done without him. John gets the school gyms for us. We have a back up gym at Marshall Middle School so if it started raining we could play there.”
The Shoe City Classic continues with games throughout the weekend, including championship tilts Sunday. Anderson was happy to see another successful tournament kick off smoothly Friday.
“Just the passion of trying to get something done,” Anderson said. “Just knowing you put all of your heart into this to make a difference in your community is worth it.
“I want us to keep doing this,” Anderson added. “I love the city of Lynn and giving back to it and love everybody just coming out and having a good time.”