BEDFORD – Over the weekend, Bedford Middle School hosted the Mark Starr Memorial Cutter Classic basketball tournament, an event held to honor the school’s former teacher and basketball coach, who passed away in 2021.
Local eighth grade boys and girls teams made the trip to Bedford to compete, including teams from Springs Valley, West Washington, Mitchell and Eastern Greene.
The tournament was put together by BMS staff members and friends of Starr, Ed Cobb, Curt Alvey and Heidi Wagner, who felt a basketball tournament was the perfect way to remember him. The even also served as a fundraiser for the Mark Starr Memorial Scholarship, which was started in his name after his passing.
“Heidi Wagner, our assistant principal, Curt Alvey, and I had all coached and taught with Mark over the years and we were all so close to Mark, just like everyone else that knew him. We wanted to do something to both honor his memory and help fund the scholarship that was given in his memory last year,” Cobb said. “We decided there was no better way than to host a basketball tournament.”
Starr, a North Lawrence Community Schools educator for 19 years, had coached girls basketball for sixth, seventh and eighth grade at the school during his time as a teacher there.
Additionally, Cobb wanted to put together an event to serve as a send-off for players at the school who would be playing their final games in a Cutters uniform.
“We decided to make it an eighth grade boys and eighth grade girls tournament because we no longer have a county tournament and we wanted to give our eighth graders an opportunity to play in a season-ending tournament to cap off their careers here,” said Cobb.
Shortly after the event was announced, Cobb said members of the community began to reach out asking how they could help.
“Once I put information out, I was flooded with people wanting to help and that wasn’t surprising at all. So, while it may have appeared to have been a huge undertaking, it was really pretty simple. To do great things, you have to have great people and this community is blessed with the best,” he said.
Cobb said the turnout and community support for the event on Saturday was incredible, with many showing up to view games throughout the day and local businesses donating products and funds that will be put toward the scholarship.
“We had so many positive comments from so many people. I am still on cloud nine thinking about the entire day, it’s going to be a long time to top that day for me, probably about a year from now. The stands were packed from start to finish,” he said.
DNA Designs, operated by Chris and Heidi Atchison, created and sold commemorative T-shirts at the event, donating all proceeds to the scholarship fund. Cobb noted that Heidi formerly taught at BMS.
“Heidi also taught here with Mark and loved him a lot,” he said.
Cobb said the event received support from Andy and Emily Fortner, with Magic Morning Bakery, who donated doughnuts and smiley-face cookies to be sold at the concession stand. He said they also provided a cash donation toward the scholarship fund.
Also in attendance at the event were members of Starr’s family, who Cobb was happy were able to make it to see the impact he had on the community.
“There are so many individuals that I can’t list them all, but they did anything needed to make this happen. Mark’s family got there early and stayed all day, so it meant so much to me to have them witness the love we all have for Mark,” Cobb added.
With some counting left to do, Cobb estimates the event raised around $7,000 for the scholarship, which will be given to a BNL student to help them pursue a college education.
He hopes to continue running this event each year going forward, with planning already underway for next year.
“We plan on doing this as long as we can. The Mark Starr Cutter Classic is only going to grow as we learn from each tournament. We are already in the planning stage for next year,” he said.
In the finals, the eighth grade BMS girls, now coached by Cobb, defeated West Washington 49-17 to keep the trophy home, a fitting conclusion for the event.
Though Starr is no longer able to coach at the school, Cobb said this current group of players is one he would have loved to lead.
“I could not have picked a better team to win the first Cutter Classic. My 8th grade girls are the exact type of team that Mark would have been crazy about,” he said.
- Bedford def. Mitchell 51-31
- West Washington def. Eastern Greene 48-32
- Eastern Greene def. Mitchell 55-41
- West Washington def. Bedford in the finals 49-42
- Bedford def. Springs Valley 42-8
- West Washington def. Mitchell 29-26
- Springs Valley def. Mitchell 35-29
- Bedford def. West Washington 49-17