GymRat Challenge is a showcase

What does it take to run one of the largest AAU basketball tournaments in the United States?

Ask GymRat Challenge tournament director John Kmack that is, if you can get him to sit still for more than five minutes.

We have a great staff, and most of my senior staff has been with me since the beginning," said Kmack. "They understand the importance of every detail, no matter how big or small."

Kmack needs a staff that he can rely on. The GymRat Challenge takes over every basketball court Siena College, Union College and the University at Albany can offer as 212 AAU teams from around the Northeast and parts of Canada converge on the Capital District for the two-day tournament on Memorial Day weekend. And those 212 teams represent only a percentage of the teams interested in playing in the event.

"The waiting list is usually between 70 and 100 teams," said Kmack. "This year's waiting list was at 83 teams."

What determines which teams get in and which teams don't is simply how quickly coaches fill out their registration forms.

"We don't reserve space for anybody," said Kmack. "There's too much demand for that."

Ballston Blizzards coach David DeNofio didn't waste any time registering his team for this year's tournament, especially after getting shut out of last year's event.

"We were the first team to register," said DeNofio. "We were desperate because we didn't want to be on a waiting list. So, we registered in January."

The Blizzards were one of approximately 20 Capital District teams that played in the tournament. The Albany City Rocks, Capital District Raptors and the Schenectady AAU club each had multiple representatives scattered throughout the three age groups (17-and-under, 16-and-under and 15-and-under).

"This area has some great talent, and things like the City Rocks and events like the GymRat really help open up people's eyes to the level of talent that we have around here," said City Rocks 15U coach Michael Beadnell.

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