The Lt. Joseph J. Theinert 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will be played at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Shelter Island School to benefit the Lt. Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund, which supports programs for military families and veterans in need.
Lieutenant Theinert, who grew up in Sag Harbor and on Shelter Island, once played the sport at the Shelter Island School, wearing the number 15 jersey, which was retired last year. He was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 4, 2010.
Jimbo Theinert, one of his brothers, said last Thursday that the fund-raiser is “lighthearted and fun, as was Joe.” Held on Thanksgiving weekend, as it has been for the past three years, it brings people back for a positive experience, he said.
And then there’s the competition. This year, Jimbo Theinert, who is now a teacher at the school, said he had recruited two top freshmen and brought back key players to his team, the Wrenches. He is its co-captain with John Goodleaf, who he said came up with the nickname Joe the Wrench for Lieutenant Theinert.
The lieutenant’s high school coach, Mike Mundy, said he remembered his outstanding work ethic. “He was tenacious in everything he did . . . he never gave up, even if we were down by 20.” He recalled that Lieutenant Theinert’s last game at the school was his best.
Tournament teams consist of three to seven players, and each must include at least one female and one student from any high school.
Kelsey McGayhey, who was an all-county basketball player at the Shelter Island School last year, scoring more than 1,000 points in her career and having her jersey retired, has offered her services, though it has yet to be announced what lucky team will get her.
“It is important to keep members on the same team from year to year,” Jimbo Theinert said, as it adds to the rivalry. Lieutenant Theinert’s family is split up among a few teams, he said, with his stepfather, Col. Frank Kestler, who has just returned from Afghanistan, playing on a team with his stepbrothers and stepsister. His brother Billy is on another team with some of Lieutenant Theinert’s close friends.
Jimbo Theinert is getting younger kids from Shelter Island involved too. He said the tournament is one of the better events “for them to get to know Joe’s friends and family in a less serious light.”
Some of the lieutenant’s friends whom he went to college with in Albany will also play, as will Dustin Mulcahy of Shelter Island, who is serving in the Army and stationed at Fort Drum, where Lieutenant Theinert also spent time.
Carla Cadzin, a co-founder and organizer of the tournament, said there is a team from Greenport to look out for, and another called Jameson All Around Every Round, named in remembrance of the lieutenant.
For some players, fashion takes precedence over skills — pink tutus are expected to be worn by a team called Pink Warrior Ninjas.
New this year is the ability to play from anywhere in the world. The I Played for Joey part of the tourney offers participation and the chance to donate online.
In addition to the basketball action, there will be snacks and a raffle contest, with prizes including gift certificates to Sweet Tomato’s on Shelter Island and the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. Airbrushed tattoos will be offered in return for donations to the cause, as will memorial T-shirts, locally designed and printed this year by Cat Brigham of Shelter Island Clothing Company.
Holding the tournament around the holiday season gives family and friends a new tradition during a time that can be hard for many people. “The event is about Joe,” said Jimbo Theinert, “the early years, the fun memories, the simple things in life. . . . He is a large part of it in a very positive way.”