CITY OF BROOKFIELD - Teams will soon arrive from around the country to take part in the third annual Big Cheese Classic.
The Big Cheese Classic has been hosted by the Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks — previously the Milwaukee Heat — and Brookfield East High School since its inception in 2015.
The tournament will host 29 competitive co-ed wheelchair basketball teams from eight states.
“I believe the first year we were at nine teams and now we are at 29. We had to close the tournament last week because we couldn’t accept anymore,” tournament director Melissa Oberst said. “It keeps branching out. It’s been known as a strong tournament in the Midwest, but now the tournament has gotten out around the country. We have teams coming from Utah, New York and Texas this year.”
Oberst first became involved with wheelchair basketball and the Big Cheese Classic after her daughter Emily discovered the sport in 2014. Even though Emily is now in college, Melissa feels it is her duty to keep helping put the tournament on.
“I feel like I owe it to pay it forward to others,” Oberst said. “It’s incredibly important for these athletes to have this opportunity. It gives confidence, it gives leadership opportunities and it gives team camaraderie.”
The event will include five divisions ranging from children up through an adult championship division.
The tournament will run from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 at Brookfield East High School, 3305 Lilly Road. Admission to watch the tournament is free.
According to Oberst, spectator interest in the tournament has been on the rise as well.
“I think we topped at 350 last year and I expect we’ll be in the 400 to 500 range this year,” Oberst said.
The tournament is still seeking volunteers to help out with the two-day event. To volunteer go to http://signup.com/go/ZJoVce.