Hurricane damages force women’s basketball Thanksgiving tournament to relocate

Updated: Oct. 4, 2017 at 3:40 p.m.

The 2017 Paradise Jam basketball tournament – slated to be played in late November – will be relocated from its original location of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

GW’s Department of Athletics announced that they will now host the reef division of the tournament from Nov. 23-25 at the Smith Center, according to a release Wednesday. GW women’s basketball is one of eight women’s teams and 16 total teams that were scheduled to play on the island.

The move comes as a result of extensive damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. St. Thomas residents have reported complete power outages and widespread property damages, according to The New York Times.

“As a staff, it’s our responsibility to ensure the teams involved in this tournament are not negatively impacted from a safety perspective or a scheduling perspective,” tournament director Jennifer Ashby said in a release. “It’s also important to be aware that despite the importance of flight arrangements, hotel bookings and basketball games, many people have suffered personal, emotional and material damage from these storms.”

The Colonials are slated to play in the Reef Division of the women’s Paradise Jam on Thanksgiving weekend against Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Syracuse.

Prior to moving the event mainland, tournament organizers planned on relocating the action to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and considered using a docked cruise ship, according to the statement.

Head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said the event will be raising money for The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. She said GW will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket and apparel sales to provide aid for the islands.

“The devastation to St. Thomas in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria will be on all of our minds throughout the tournament and our priority is to help provide relief to the affected communities by collecting donations each day of the event,” Rizzotti said in a release Wednesday.

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