StartUP swooshin’ for big project

Following a period of trouble with other projects, this year’s Monroe County startUP class has settled on a 3v3 basketball tournament taking place this Saturday.

The Swooshin’ 3’s 3v3 Tournament, as startUP student Sabrina Leingang said, will involve close to 48 teams participating in three brackets, grades 3-5, 6-8 and ninth grade to adults.

The double elimination bracket play is set to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Columbia High School gym, with tickets priced at $5 for one or $20 for six.

The tournament follows several weeks of struggles to lock down a major class project.

The most notable roadblock for this year’s class was hit in early January when the Valmeyer Village Board denied the group’s request to use a space in the Rock City development caves for a concert.

Both Leingang and fellow startUP student Nick Janik spoke about the effort that went into planning for the event.

Janik said the idea for the concert was originally borne from a previous idea to hold a sort of two-day ball.

As the class presented its idea to the board in late December after much research, village trustees expressed concerns about safety and security, citing unsecured areas of the ceiling which could expose patrons to falling rocks as a significant hazard.

“We were able to get a hold of some big names and reach out to them to see if they were interested,” Janik said. “It was looking very good, and then, of course, when the Rock City caves said that we were, unfortunately, not able to have it there due to legality, that’s when we started having a few other ideas, but they unfortunately were also getting denied for more legality reasons, and that’s basically what has brought us here.”

Leingang added the class, working as a team, was able to recover from the Rock City concert refusal as well as the other instances that were turned down.

“We were very devastated by that, but we bounced back from it, and knowing that we had to get an event by March, we were kind of limited to ideas,” Leingang said. “We needed to stick to something basic that we know we could get money from that was not going to be as big of a risk as the concert was.”

The group eventually decided on the upcoming 3v3 hoops tournament as the safer option.

StartUP Board Chairman George Obernagel, who is also assisting with the tournament by donating meat to raffle according to Leingang, similarly described the teamwork and determination demonstrated by the class as it dealt with the rejections.

“It’s been a very challenging year for them,” Obernagel said. “They have to learn you can’t always be accepted. They all work as a group together and they come back together with a team… The kids are really good. They’re very positive. You walk into class, their faces down, they got rejected, they’re just saying ‘What are we gonna do next?’”

Janik and Leingang also reflected on some of their takeaways from the class at this point in the school year.

Regarding the change in project plans, Janik said the flexibility demanded of the class is what startUP is all about.

“It’s definitely a lot different than what we had planned, but that’s what this class is all about, just being able to learn new things and how to start up that business, how to make that plan,” Janik said. “It really is unfortunate, but it also has taught us a few good lessons on how to branch out.”

Janik also spoke to the personal growth that the class has helped him achieve, specifically in regard to improving his attention and teamwork as the class centers on personal learning rather than just taking notes.

Leingang similarly discussed how the class has helped her with confidence, primarily when it comes to public speaking skills, while also broadly expanding personal knowledge and experience.

“I believe that my confidence overall has been boosted 20 times,” Leingang said. “I can now talk in a room full of adults and not be scared anymore, not feel any hesitation from it. And I just feel that, like, I know more than just an average kid my age. It just makes me feel more confident overall.”

Obernagel spoke positively about this year’s startUP class, commending it not just for perseverance but also personal creativity.

“We heard their views on all their personal businesses, and I think they are very top notch, some great personal businesses that they’re gonna be doing,” Obernagel said.

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web