Program cover from the inaugural WOBM CC in 1984
Program cover from the inaugural WOBM CC in 1984

With apologies to those of you who have no interest in a basketball tournament today’s segment is all about the WOBM Christmas Classic which begins this weekend at the RWJBarnabas Health Arena at Toms River High School North. Presented by the U.S. Army the 37th edition has all 16 girls teams playing on Saturday with the boys to take the court on Sunday.

While many know the history even more do not.  The tournament came about in 1984 after Southern Regional decided to discontinue the Roundball Festival they ran for many years.  I happened to attend a meeting of the eight boys head coaches who participated in that annual event as they pondered the future of a holiday tournament.  I not only suggested that it take place at Ocean County College but volunteered to make it happen as two of WOBM’s owners at that time were active members of the college’s Board of Trustees.

Not only did we secure the facility from OCC but we attached WOBM’s name to the event and it was an immediate hit as we had to turn away people from the finals.  It remained that way for many years and we added a girls division in 1994 and with teams clamoring to get in we expanded to the current 16 boys and 16 girls format with the opening of what is now the RWJBarnabas Health Arena 17 years ago.

We have certainly come a long way from having the inaugural coaches seeding meeting in my living room to a dinner at The Office Restaurant & Lounge.  I’d like to believe that we make it a special experience for the players and coaches by providing tee shirts courtesy of the Causeway Family of Dealerships to academic scholarships funded in part by Community Medical Center/RWJBarnabas Health.

In the end it’s a tournament with teams striving to get their season off to a good start by winning a championship.  However you have to win three games to get that opportunity and the quest begins this weekend.


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