Legacy Hoopfest Unites Community and Supports Jr. Sentinels


The spirit of sportsmanship and community pride soared to new heights at the Legacy Hoopfest event organized by the Westmont Jr. Sentinels, a grassroots initiative that has been making waves in Westmont. The Legacy Hoopfest brought families and athletes together in a celebration of unity, athleticism, and a shared vision for a brighter future.

Established in December 2022 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Westmont Jr. Sentinels have a three-fold mission: to provide quality skill development for young athletes, to strengthen the community, and to ensure equal access to sports for all families, regardless of their financial resources.

The organization has been instrumental in introducing kids to sports, with many having never even touched a basketball before participating in the Westmont Jr. Sentinels' skill camps. The skill camps provide coaching, training, and resources that help athletes hone their abilities and improve their performance. By doing so, they prepare these athletes to have a competitive edge when entering junior high and high school.

Henry Gomez, a Manning Elementary parent and originator for the Westmont Jr. Sentinels, emphasized the importance of providing children with opportunities to experience the same joys of sports he cherished during childhood. "I played, and I wanted my children to have the same experiences I had. This focus on skill development can contribute to their success as they progress in their athletic careers." He also praised the Principal of Manning, Lindsay Pietrzak, whose remarkable ability to connect people played a pivotal role in bringing the community together. "Westmont is a small town with incredible people. We have some untapped community members, and we aim to make this community even better than it is." Ms. Pietrzak expressed her admiration for the parents and volunteers who worked tirelessly to turn the vision of the Jr. Sentinels into a reality. "A special thank you to the originators of Jr. Sentinels, Matt & Heather Franklin, Henry Gomez, Alex Harrison, Lori Flood, Charlie Curran, Mike Rose, and Reggie Smith. These parents put forth the effort, time, and energy to create and make the vision happen."

The Jr. Sentinels have significantly impacted by offering skill camps for students in grades 2-8, with over 140 students participating and improving their skills, but there is more to be done. Ensuring equal access to sports for all families, regardless of their financial resources, is a fundamental part of their mission. Heather Franklin explains, "Hoopfest was conceived to generate excitement and awareness around the Westmont Jr. Sentinels; funds raised will go directly toward offsetting student costs." 


The Jr. Sentinels extend their heartfelt thanks to the dedicated volunteers and supporters who made the Legacy Hoopfest a success, "To our very own CUSD 201 teachers and parents, Frank Cyrus, Joseph Kwiatkowski, and Ryan Petty, for stepping up as refs for the day—Courtney Templeton for her help with concessions, Larry London and Tom Muir who stepped up to the grill. We also had 25-30 junior high and high school student volunteers ready to step in wherever needed. Their efforts exemplify the power of community spirit in Westmont." 

Matt Franklin expressed his amazement at the event's success: "We are grateful to the substantial donors who played a vital role in making Hoopfest an unforgettable event. The energy was incredible; a part of this community I had not seen. It exceeded my expectations." 

Despite their achievements, the Westmont Jr. Sentinels face challenges such as limited facilities, transportation issues, and the need to hire additional expert coaches to enhance the skill level of young athletes. However, their dedication remains unwavering.

Lindsay Pietrzak envisions a bright future for the Jr. Sentinels with students enrolled in the multiple after-school skill camps. "Currently, we are only offering basketball camps. We hope to provide other sports camps. We have already begun talking about wrestling! 

In five years, it will be a Destination Tournament, a multi-community event in the Western Suburbs, organized by our students currently in the program," Matt Franklin shared. This ambitious vision has led to the event being named "Legacy Hoopfest." The community can expect a block party atmosphere and a higher level of competitive basketball at the junior high and high school levels.

For those interested in getting involved with the Jr. Sentinels or for donations, please visit legacyhoopfest.org/donate