Metlakatla plays Klukwan in the Gold Medal Tournament on Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Mollie Barnes | Juneau Empire)

Metlakatla plays Klukwan in the Gold Medal Tournament on Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Mollie Barnes | Juneau Empire)

A ‘gathering of family’: Gold Medal Tournament kicks off in Juneau

The 73rd annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament began Sunday

To Ted Burke from the Juneau Lions Club, the annual basketball tournament in Juneau is a “gathering of family.”

The 73rd annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament began Sunday, welcoming players and fans from across Southeast. The week centers around basketball, and although most say they want to see their team win, most said they’re also excited about seeing people from around the area.

“Us Lions who are from Juneau get to reestablish relationships with all of the communities that come up here,” said Burke. “I’ve been doing this with these people for 32 years. I see them once a year, and it’s just like I’ve been with them all year long. So that’s one of the most favorite things for me. It’s the greatest basketball you’re ever going to see.”

When Delores Starr and Lillian Jamestown were asked what they were looking forward to this week, the two sisters from Angoon said simultaneously, “For our team to win.”

They said they are staying for nine days, and have been coming to Juneau for the annual basketball tournament for what feels like “forever.”

“We eat out and we get our hair done,” said Starr. “We meet family and we shop. Our whole family comes up. We get to cheer and have fun, and we visit a lot.”

This is why we want the ferry. All these people come on the ferry. They bring their cars, their families. If there’s no ferry, come Gold Medal time, how are they going to get here?” Starr said.

[Beyond the budget: What are the options to extend ferry service past October?]

The tournament this year has representation from 11 communities across Southeast Alaska, Burke said. All of which he said benefit from the tournament.

“With our profits from this tournament we give a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating high school member (from each community),” he said. They’ve been doing this program for years.

About $23,000 was distributed last year to various nonprofits around Juneau and the surrounding area from the tournament profits, Burke said.

Burke said there’s an endless amount of things the tournament does for the community. For example, he cited figures from last year. Students volunteer to work the food booth and the money goes back to their school organizations.

“It’s nothing for these young men and women to make anywhere between $9,000 and $17,000 for their school organization, so it helps the school budget,” Burke said. “We just think it’s the most fantastic thing to have the young men and women, not only learn about volunteerism but help the school budget.”

• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at

More in Sports

Andrea Peet poses for a portrait, with just a handful of her racing medals, at her home in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 13, 2020. Peet was diagnosed with ALS in 2014. As an avid marathon runner and triathlete, she has pushed through the physical struggles brought on by the disease to continue racing on a recumbent trike. Peet is the first person with ALS to complete a full marathon in all 50 states. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer)
Woman with ALS completes marathons in 50 states

Run on Prince of Wales Island checked Alaska off her list.

Cailin Bracken plays lacrosse with the Vanderbilt team on March 16, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. When she became overwhelmed by college life, especially when she had to isolate upon testing positive for COVID-19 after just a few days on campus, she decided to leave the team. Bracken wrote an open letter to college sports, calling on coaches and administrators to become more cognizant of the challenges athletes face in navigating not only their competitive side, but also their social and academic responsibilities. (Josh Rehders/Vanderbilt University)
College athletes push mental health to the forefront

Universities are starting to pay closer attention to the mental health of their athletes.

Courtesy photo / JDHS soccer 
The JDHS boys soccer team overcame a 2-0 lead against TMHS to win the state title, including three goals by a freshman player.
JDHS boys coach talks 4-2 championship comeback win

Things were looking dire for the eventual winners.

Courtesy photo / Myra Pugh 
The JDHS girls soccer team swept to victory in the DII state championship on Saturday without a single goal being scored against them in the tournament.
JDHS teams sweep state soccer championships

No one could stand before the Crimson Bears.

JDHS players and fans recognized seniors Tias Carney, Sam Marnon, Callan Smith, Zayden Schijvens, Samuel Holst, Andre Peirovi, Owen Costello, Ahmed Mezel, Solomon Alper, Will Rehfeldt and Ben Goldstein during senior night on May 22, 2022. They’ll play their final high school games together this week at the state tournament in Anchorage. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Juneau soccer teams celebrate their seniors

For many, their final high school games come this week at the state tournament.

Porter Nelson, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé, signed his letter of intent to play baseball for Citrus College, a community college located in Glendora, California, on May 24, 2022. “I was pretty stoked. I didn’t think they were going to answer my email,” said Nelson about the college extending the offer. “They’re the dream for me.” Nelson plays center fielder, and intends to study kinesiology, he said. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
JDHS baseball player signs for California college

Porter Nelson, a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé, signed his… Continue reading

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Coaches’ Corner: JDHS boys basketball

Season-end awards announced.

Blake Plummer, left, and Sophia Pugh, both JDHS girls soccer players, sign their letters of intent to play for Peninsula College and the Pratt Institute respectively on May 9, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
JDHS soccer players sign for college teams on opposite coasts

The two have played together for years, playing key roles for JDHS.