Noon Thursday marked the kick-off for the annual Coyote Pack Tournament at Dora, in which 48 teams from surrounding New Mexico counties will compete against each other, raising some $5,000 for Dora High School athletics.
Event coordinator Mike Cone said the tournament has been going for roughly 25 years.
“Over the last couple of years, you’ve seen more tournaments pop up but for awhile, we were the only one in the area,” Cone said. “It started out as a small tournament for small schools and now it’s grown. Over the last 10 years, it’s really grown in size.”
Cone and Leslie Privett took over the tournament in 2001 from its original founder, Dora farmer, Mack Brown, who died in February of cancer.
Cone said a ceremony will be held Saturday evening to formally change the name of the annual tournament to the Mack Brown Memorial Tournament in honor of Brown, who originally named it the Dora Lil’ Dribblers Tournament.
“Our philosophy is we like to work our tales off for one week rather than do little raffles and things throughout the year,” Cone said. “It’s the people of the school who make this happen and I applaud them. It’s a community effort.”
Three divisions play in the tournament ranging from first- to sixth-grade children, boys and girls divisions.
In the fifth- and sixth-grade girls division, the Portales Rams played the Portales Zias as one of the first games of the day.
Team members of the Rams said they finished second in their division last year, so they are feeling confident about this year’s competition.
“We’ve been working hard all year,” said Portales Rams player Sarah Blaeser. “We enjoy competing because we like winning and we like to be worked hard.”
“We’re all the same age and we’re the oldest, so this is our last year,” added Kirsten Tapia. “We’re sad it’s our last.”
In the first- and second-grade boys division, the Elida Tigers prepared for their second game of the day Thursday afternoon as Coach Joreta Creighton showed them moves with the basketball in the hallway of the school’s older gym.
“I’m excited ‘cause I’ve never been in a tournament,” said first-grader Ryon Howell. “It’s going to be fun ‘cause there’s a lot of games.”
“I just really wanted to play basketball,” said his female teammate, Lilly Anthony. “I get to learn. I feel really good right now.”
The team said they won their first game against the Melrose No. 2 team 18-10.
“It’s nice to see our community will come out and work for our kids,” Privett said. “I think it (the tournament) prepares them for their future in athletics and other life endeavors.”