By Alicia Dziak

Basketball! Local celebrities! SGI teachers! It’s all part of the Roundball Rumble for Roswell on Thursday, Dec. 15—and the best part is it’s for a great cause!

The game is the brainchild of the students in SGI high school’s sports and entertainment marketing class, a half-year elective course.

“The sports and entertainment marketing class is made up of 10th, 11th and 12th graders.  The goal of the class is to engage the students in real-life applications they could potentially encounter in the real world,” explained teacher Eric Holler.

Projects continue throughout the semesters. “The class did two halftime contests during the football season and are looking to do a couple more for this upcoming basketball season, the big one being the Roundball Rumble for Roswell,” Holler explained.

After a class brainstorming session, “We came up with several ideas that would connect the community and school,” Holler noted, “…we decided on the celebrity game because there was little cost up front and it would hopefully bring the outside community to the school.”

From there, the event began to take shape. Students began contacting sponsors, creating social media promotions, accumulating things for a raffle and selling tickets, among other things.

According to Holler, the Roundball Rumble for Roswell can be described as “a basketball game featuring SGI staff/alumni and local celebrities.  It will be a fun basketball game with some good talent and entertaining personalities.”

One hundred percent of the money raised will go to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

“Roswell Park has been involved in the majority of people’s lives either directly or indirectly,” explained Holler about the decision to raise money for them. “They continue to do great things and it’s a Western New York organization. Our goal is to ‘pack that gym!’  meaning we want every seat filled and to be able to donate as much money as possible.  Being a small community, with a lot of great causes to contribute to, we understand not everyone has the means to buy a ticket and donate.  The goal is $1,500, but any amount helps.  Hopefully this event can become an annual game that continues to grow.”

Teachers and alumni participating in the event include Robert Gainey- P.E. teacher/Coach, Greg Miller- Social Studies teacher/Coach, Karen Reynolds- P.E. Teacher, James Bialasik – High School Principal, Dave Broom – 5th Grade Teacher, Chris Scarpine – SES Principal, Gretchen Heichberger- 6th Grade Math Teacher, Olivia Emerling- Alumni, 1,000 Point Scorer and Mark Vogel – High School Teacher.

“Staff involvement was decided by interest and existing relationships,” explained Holler.  “We have both of boys basketball coaches involved, and some former coaches in the district.  We also wanted to get all the buildings in the district involved and administrators from some of those buildings.  It will give students and opportunity to see some staff outside of a classroom environment.”

Additionally, several local celebrities will be in attendance., including Jeremy White- WGR 550, Jonah Javad- WGRZ/Channel 2 Sports, Brett Alan- WYRK 106.5, Joe Licata- UB Football All Time Passer, Tyler Dunne- Bleacher Report, Nick Mendola- NBC Sports soccer/FC Buffalo owner, Heather Prusak- WGRZ/Channel 2 Sports, Mark Bouquin- American Grit Winner (Fox), Joe Buscaglia- WKBW Channel 7 Sports, Sal Capaccio- WGR 550/Time Warner/Buffalo Bills Network, Courtney Corbetta- Channel 7/AM Buffalo and Rich Gaenzler “Bull” 97 Rock.

“Celebrities we targeted all had to do with sports,” Holler stated.  “Jonah Javad is from WGRZ sports, Joe Buscaglia is WKBW sports, Joe Licata is the UB Bulls’ all-time passer (and he can dunk).  Once we were making contact with the individuals, they began to give referrals of other people who may be interested.  Everyone wants to rally for a good cause and I think Roswell Park is an organization that has touched everyone in some way.  We actually had a few people contact us wanting to play but scheduling conflicts prevented it from happening.”

Join the community for this sure-to-be-fun night of hoops and entertainment. Festivities will start around 5:45 p.m. and tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $3 presale and $5 at the door.

Tickets can be purchased at the high school in The Griffin’s Lair, or from Holler (contact him at to order).

More information is also available on the class Twitter feed            @sgi_smclass.