What basketball-crazy kid wouldn’t want to spend a day playing ball in the University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena? Add to that the chance to shoot around with men and women from the university basketball teams and then face off against peers in a three-on-three basketball tournament, and you’ve got one winning event.
That’s exactly what 274 young Oregonians experienced on a Sunday in April, at the 16th annual KIDSPORTS Invitational Tournament.
Organized from start to finish by the undergraduate members of the Lundquist College’s Warsaw Sports Business Club, the tournament’s proceeds benefit two funds. One is the KIDSPORTS Emerald Scholarship, which helps children participate in the athletic programs KIDSPORTS offers. The other is the Stephen Dember Memorial Scholarship, which was established in 2005 to commemorate UO student Stephen Dember and is given each year to a student who—like Stephen—shows outstanding dedication to sports business.
Stephen’s parents, Barbara and Barry Dember, attended this year’s tournament. During a ceremony held at the start of the event, they celebrated their son's life and shared memories of him with the tournament's participants.
For tournament director Ezequiel Hernandez ’15, having the Dembers attend this year's event was especially meaningful. Hernandez received the 2014 Dember scholarship last spring—just days before WSBC advisor Whitney Wagoner asked him to head up this year’s tournament.
“So in a sense, it's full circle,” said Hernandez, whose career dream is to work at a consumer engagement agency, connecting companies with their customers in new and engaging ways.
“The Dember family has truly impacted my education, and I'm glad I was able to honor their son through this event,” added Hernandez.
This year’s event generated more than $10,000. Profits will be split evenly between the two scholarship funds.