Staff prepares UW Health Sports Factory for WNIT

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 8:59 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Just a few weeks back, courts at the UW Health Sports Factory were filled with Rockford’s youth basketball players, training and having fun. Now it is ready for the best of the best in college women’s basketball to show their skills.

“Couldn’t be prouder to compete on a national stage for this opportunity,” said Nick Povalitis, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Vice President of Marketing.

In just a few days, players will take the floor at the UW Health Sports Factory with a chance to compete for a NCAA Division 1 basketball championship.

“When players walk in this door for practice Thursday, it’s going to be set up and ready to go,” said Danielle Potter, Rockford Park District Operations Director.

When the RACVB landed the contract for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), many wondered what it would take to turn the Sports Factory into a major venue. But after weeks of work, that vision has come to life.

“This is almost like a template for moving forward for setting up that arena type vibe and setting this really is just a reflection of the flexibility this facility offers.”

The “arena” features the Fred VanVleet court design from the BMO Harris Bank Center, and basketball hoops from Northern Illinois University. Potter says it’s an “all hands on deck” situation to host the tournament.

“We’re working with a different media company to do some videoing and to make it a little special environment,” Potter said. “There’s probably 5 to 6 different partners and groups pulling this off to make it a great event.”

While bringing the NCAA level talent to Rockford is special for the basketball community, many believe this is just the beginning of more great things to come.

“If we all come together and put together a great effort we know it’s going to pay dividends down the road with Triple Crown,” Povalitis said. “We know there are other opportunities out there, it’s on us to just prove ourselves.”

The WNIT Rockford Regional tips off Friday at 11 a.m. and will run until Monday night.

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