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

Lucas White (21) and two other Huskies take down a player from Dimond High School on Saturday, Aug. 21. Juneau coach Rich Sjoroos said solid tackling by White and others played a major role in the Huskie's 27-14 win against Bartlett High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Huskies make it 3 in a row

Next game is senior night.

Payton Grant, left, plays football against East Anchorage High School on Sept. 4, 2021. Grant scored in last week’s away game against Service High School. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Juneau football brings the heat to Service in away game

It’s Juneau’s first road win for the season.

Juneau's Wallace Adams, a senior, trudges forward while draped in East Anchorage defenders. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
7 points: Huskies outlast East Anchorage

Takeaways from Saturday’s game and a look ahead.

The Juneau Huskies practice on Aug. 10. The high school football team's record stands at 2-1 following a loss to West Anchorage over the weekend. On Saturday, Juneau will host East Anchorage. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
7 points: Despite good first half, West Anchorage takes Huskies down

Juneau turns in a solid performance on an away game.

Rayna Tuckwood, Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé sophomore, sprints to the finish during a cross country race at Savikko Park on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. Tuckwood would place first with a time of 20:20 as the JDHS girls took the first five places. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Cross country teams coming out of the gates hot

JDHS girls scored a perfect meet: five-for-five.

FILE - This Jan. 29, 2014 file photo shows former Denver Broncos offensive lineman and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth in New York.   Schlereth returned home to Alaska this week to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  The Service High alumnus made a halftime appearance Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at West High, where his alma mater squared off against the West Eagles.  (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)
Ex-NFL player Mark Schlereth urges Alaskans to get vaccine

“I just want to encourage everybody to do your part.”

Gaby Soto crosses the goal line to put six points on the board for the Huskies in Juneau’s first high school football game in nearly two years. Soto scored three touchdowns for the Huskies in the first half. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
7 points: Juneau wins big in season opener

Seven takeaways from the first game in two years

Members of the Juneau Huskies practice on Tuesday. After COVID-19 forced the cancelation of the 2020 high school football season, the Juneau Huskies are eager to take the field for the season opener against Colony High School. The varsity and JV squad will both play Saturday, August 14 on the field at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
Huskies football returns —after nearly 700 days between games

The Juneau high school football team prepares to take the field.

Runners from the Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé cross country team practice during the preseason. (Courtesy photo / Tristan Knutson-Lombardo)
Cross country teams gaining speed and numbers

Both high schools are looking at substantial rosters this year.

Members of Glacier Swim Club’s winning 13-14 girls 400-meter free relay team from Summer Champs pose for a photo. The team includes Valerie Peimann, Pacific Ricke, Dannan Mills and Caitlin Sanders. (Courtesy Photo)
It’s a busy time for local swim club

Big meets in the past, tryouts in the future.

Gold medalist Lydia Jacoby of the United States celebrates on the podium after the final of the women’s 100-meter breaststroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.(AP Photo / Matthias Schrader)
Seward embraces state’s 1st swimmer to win gold

“What happened last night couldn’t happen to a nicer kid,” he said.