By Craig Cummins
The legacy of an Maricopa High School athlete lives on through the admiration and support of his friends, family and community, and his love of basketball.
Over 190 players spread across 54 teams took to the courts of Copper Sky Regional Park and Pacana Park, to compete in the Maricopa March Madness: Nate Ford Memorial Basketball Tournament.
The original Maricopa March Madness tournament took place back in 2014, when Nate, a Maricopa High School junior at the time, created the fund-raising tournament as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Nate passed away in a car accident in August 2015. His father, Doug Ford, has picked up where his son left off, continuing the tournament as a testament to his son.
“I think he would be really proud of what we were able to accomplish with the tournament this year,” Ford says.
While Ford took the position of tournament organizer, he was not alone in his efforts. Members of the Maricopa community volunteered their time to help run the event. The scorekeepers were all members of the Maricopa High School baseball team and friends of Nate, and Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa handled tournament registration.
The first tournament, which was run by Nate, brought in $1,000 in fundraising. This year’s tournament brought in $5,000.
“He was very patriotic and always wanted to do something to help the soldiers,” his father said.
The money raised in this year’s tournament will be split evenly between the local American Legion and the Military Assistance Mission, an Arizona based non-profit that helps active duty service members.
“We provide financial and moral support for active duty service members in Arizona,” said Brian Gibbs, director of operations for Military Assistance Mission. “Rent, car payments – issues arise when service members are deployed, so we help them and their spouses with the diapers, utilities or whatever else they need.”
While many of the players that participated in the tournament never knew Nate, others were close friends.
Adam Orrock, a mining engineer and friend of the Ford family, made it to the finals in the tournament last year.
“I’m out here to support a good cause and have some fun,” Orrock says. “The first tournament was a lot smaller, but it’s the same ol’ song and dance. He (Nate) would be proud.”
Cole Trimmer, 17, a junior at Maricopa High School and friend of Nate, came to the tournament to with his team named “Clutch.”
“Nate was a good friend of mine, so I’m playing in the tournament to ball-out and to show him my respect,” he said.
The Rocking 4D Foundation, a charitable foundation started in Nate’s honor, plans to continue the tournament in the years to come and also hold other events to help improve the Maricopa community.
For more information on the tournament and other events visit www. Rocking4dfoundation.org.