SALT LAKE CITY (February 20, 2013) – The Utah Jazz will celebrate 30 years of the Jr. Jazz program with ‘Jr. Jazz Night’ on February 27 when the team hosts the Atlanta Hawks. Officially declared ‘Jr. Jazz Day’ by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, February 27 showcases a growth from 7,133 participants when the program began in 1983 to over 55,000 participants in 2013 making it the NBA’s largest and longest-running youth basketball league. The program has welcomed over 1.3 million participants and 350,000 volunteers in 30 years.
“The Jazz organization has long been committed to excellence as a team and in the community, and the Jr. Jazz program is a model of that commitment,” said Jazz president Randy Rigby. “We thank all the participants, parents, volunteers and sponsors, past and present, for helping us create one of the best youth leagues in all of professional sports as we celebrate this great milestone of 30 years.”
The festivities of the night will include the reading of the official declaration of ‘Jr. Jazz Day,’ a video presentation showcasing the Jr. Jazz program over the course of 30 years and a recognition ceremony of all past and present Jr. Jazz participants and volunteers in attendance. In addition, Jr. Jazz sponsors McDonald’s, Denny’s, Merit Medical, Savage Companies, AT&T and Scheels will be honored during a halftime presentation, while McDonald’s and Denny’s will offer a free food item coupon to fans in attendance.
A discounted ticket offer for ‘Jr. Jazz Night’ is currently available for past and present Jr. Jazz participants. The offer includes an upper bowl ticket, a hot dog and small drink for $13 and can be purchased online HERE. The offer is limited and subject to availability. Fans in attendance are also encouraged to wear a Jr. Jazz jersey in support of the program.
In conjunction with the celebration on February 27, fans can participate in a Jr. Jazz photo contest HERE with the opportunity to win Jazz tickets and autographed memorabilia. Submissions should include fans wearing Jr. Jazz jerseys spanning the 30 years of the program.
The focus of the Jr. Jazz program is to help youth learn teamwork and fundamental basketball skills while promoting sportsmanship and positive interactions with other children and young adults. The Jr. Jazz program has local recreation centers based in 107 cities located throughout Utah (85 cities), Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. Kindergartners through 12th-graders are eligible to participate.
In addition to league play, each Jazz player participates in at least one Jr. Jazz clinic each season, visiting both local and outlying districts to speak with youth and conduct basketball skills clinics. Also, each summer select Jazz players participate in a Jr. Jazz trip, traveling throughout the intermountain region conducting basketball skills clinics. The Jazz remains the only team in the NBA to stage a summer tour to interact with fans in this capacity.
Notable alumni of Jr. Jazz include current NFL players Paul Kruger (Baltimore Ravens) and Brady Poppinga (Dallas Cowboys), former Brigham Young University and NBA players Shawn Bradley and Travis Hansen, former University of Utah and NFL player Kevin Dyson, former Utah State University and NFL player Kevin Curtis, American Idol finalist David Archuleta and Utah little league football sensation Sam Gordon.