When Tom Jenkins created the Classic in the Country Challenge 14 years ago, he did so with the goal of presenting some top-tier high school girls basketball. Additionally (and equally as important), Tom wanted to promote the celebration of sameness in people everywhere, as well as the idea that respecting and honoring others is the best way to help make the world a better place.
As a result of Tom’s vision, the Classic in the Country Challenge traditionally takes place over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, but the other person honored throughout the three day event is Perry Reese Jr., the legendary Hiland boys’ basketball coach who helped bring down racial barriers in Holmes County through his willingness to understand the situation and help a white, Amish, and Mennonite community understand that respect and building relationships can overcome skin color. Reese, who taught at Hiland Middle School, was constantly promoting the very idea that the game of basketball was much more than final scores, titles and wins and losses. He too promoted the game as a way to teach young people the game of life.
Dave Mast recently sat down with Tom Jenkins, founder of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report along with his team of Tenishia Benson (Executive Director/Director of Events) and Bryce McKey (Associate Director/Director of Scouting) to discuss this year’s Classic in the Country Challenge. In the video below, Tom Jenkins and Tenishia Benson discuss how Classic in the Country brings together different backgrounds from all walks of life to celebrate the game of basketball – but it also gives an opportunity for our society to embrace our differences and bring out the best in each other.
Tom likes to say there are three bridges that can help overcome cultural differences: Competitive athletics; Mouth watering food; Foot stomping music. For all who have attended this wonderful event over the years, we think everyone can agree that Tom Jenkins’ vision for Classic in the Country has done a fantastic job of crossing all three bridges.
The 2017 Classic in the Country Challenge will take place at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center at Hiland High School in Berlin, Ohio, January 14-16. This year’s event will showcase 28 teams from Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, with 20 competitively scheduled games over three exciting days.