Believe it: Happy Madison sponsoring court at Justin Sharp Shootout

Posted Online: June 23, 2012, 6:36 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Daniel Makarewicz,
- First-round Justin Sharp Shootout pairings -- Page B2

Thom Sigel figures most guests at this week's Justin Sharp Memorial Shootout will do a "double-take" when they notice Happy Madison Court inside the tournament program.

Yeah, that Happy Madison. Adam Sandler's production company is sponsoring a court.

"They should think it's awesome," said Sigel, the Rock Island boys' basketball coach. "To have a connection with the Sharp Shootout and a major production company is pretty cool."

The story behind the happening is even better.

Sharp's sister, Alissa, is the mastermind behind Happy Madison's involvement and getting the company to sponsor a court. Since last fall, Alissa has attended Occidental College in southern California and worked part-time for Sandler's producing partner Jack Giarraputo, who gave the approval for all this.

Alissa told Giarraputo how her brother succumbed to leukemia almost nine years ago and what the tournament means to his memory and the Quad-Cities community. Within a week, Happy Madison issued a check.

"It was right away," Sharp said. "No issues. No begging."

With the check signed, sealed and delivered, Rock Island Fieldhouse becomes Happy Madison Court for one weekend.

"They saw what a worthwhile cause it is," Sigel said. "And that's someone who isn't from Rock Island and didn't know him. It's just real generous. It's also a testimony to what the tournament stands for."

Above all, the tournament serves as a memorial to a player so respected that his signature is present on every chair inside the Rocks' locker room. No other player has worn No. 14 since Justin passed away in December 2003.

Now, the event with so much meaning for those behind its success has a special twist.

"That's a really cool thing," Sharp's father Craig said. "Happy Madison is kind of a big deal in the world. It's a pretty nice tie-in."

All this is a fitting tribute to Justin Sharp's memory.

"I don't know if he liked those movies or not," Sigel said. "But he'd be honored to know someone would do that."

The gesture came by way of what Alissa calls a "very generous" family.

"Really nice and down-to-earth people," Alissa said.

They were moved by Justin's story.

"(Giarraputo) took it to heart," Alissa said.

Dialogue between Alissa and Giarraputo about the tournament started two months ago and everything was finalized in late May. Once Sigel learned about it, the die-hard Sandler fan initially thought it was a joke.

"When I realized he was serious," Sigel said, "I thought it was a neat connection."

Until now, all this has been kept quiet. Sigel said none of the participating teams know the entire story behind Happy Madison Court or that the name is the actual Happy Madison Productions.

"I'm sure they'll wonder how it came about," Sigel said.

Everything started with a sister wanting to continue her brother's legacy.

Besides the court sponsorship, Happy Madison will get a full-page ad in the shootout program. Alissa got sizes so the family can have T-shirts from the event.

Ironically, those shirts could make an appearance in "Grown Ups 2," the company's upcoming film.

"He wants it in the next movie," Alissa said. "Just like an extra or something. He just likes that kind of stuff."

The Justin Sharp Memorial Shootout could make an appearance on the big screen.

A simple check made this all possible.

"I had no idea there was ever going to be a connection," Craig said. "Very hard to believe."

Believe it.

Justin Sharp Shootout

- When: Friday-Saturday
- Where: Rock Island Fieldhouse and PepsiCo Recreation Center
- Local teams: Alleman, Geneseo, Moline, Morrison, Rock Island, Rockridge, United Township 


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.

(More History)