Tatum Tough Tournament is more than just basketball

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Canyon’s Kemper Jones wears a Tatum Tough shirt during pregame warmups against Childress on Wednesday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]

Canyon head boys basketball coach Travis Schulte has wanted to host a holiday basketball tournament for years now.

This week his dream finally came to fruition, and how special it is as the tournament honors his late daughter, Tatum, who captivated the hearts of not only the city of Canyon, but the entire Texas Panhandle during her courageous bout with osteosarcoma.

Tatum passed away on Oct 30, 2017, at the age of nine, however her legacy is as strong as ever to close out 2021.

Schulte, and the Canyon basketball team are properly honoring Tatum with the Tatum Tough Tournament being played Wednesday and Thursday at the Joe Lombard Gymnasium at Canyon High School.

The tournament does give the six-team field made up of Brownfield, Canyon, Childress, Clarendon, Glen Rose, Brownfield, and Midland Greenwood the opportunity for competition, but at the same time gives the players, coaches and fans a chance to honor one brave little girl’s heroic bout with cancer.

“We always wanted do something like this in honor of Tatum,” Schulte said. “Tatum was so incredible I feel like her memory is alive and well. Instead of this tournament being to remember Tatum, it’s more just to honor her.

“Her classmates still do so many things in her honor. My team remembers Tatum’s battle like it was yesterday. They still have Tatum Tough on their team shirts every year. Even when I say they don’t have to. It’s important to them to show her toughness.”

One thing that has inspired Schulte is seeing all the teams in the tournament pay their respects by wearing Tatum Tough Tournament shirts during pregame warmups.

“That’s been really amazing to see,” Schulte said. “We handed out the Tatum Tough shirts, and all the teams have been wearing them in warmups. Not just our team, but every team playing here.”

Clarendon head coach Boston Hudson is a close friend of Schulte’s. Hudson says he couldn’t think of a better way to show his support than his Broncos team playing in this special holiday tournament.

“This is a great way for all of us to show how important Tatum was to all of us,” Hudson said. “My family is really close with coach Schulte and his family. My brother Braden was a ring bearer in Travis and Shawna’s wedding. My mother coached Shawna in Dimmitt. So it’s just an honor for us to play in this tournament and show our respect for the Schulte’s and Tatum.”

Childress head boys coach Wayne Parker is a friend of Schulte’s, and agreed with Hudson’s comment.

“This is a great honor for our team,” Parker said. “This is something we can tell our guys that life is tough, but they can push through it like Tatum did. It’s just really special to be invited here, and to be a part of this tournament.”

Schulte and his wife, Shawna, keep Tatum’s memory alive in so many ways including the Tatum Tough Foundation. Headed by Shawna, the foundation helps families that were in a similar situation as the Schulte’s and Tatum.

“We spent so much time at BSA and Northwest Texas Hospital we got to know the nurses in the pediatric and cancer division really well. So anytime there’s a family that is going through what we went through we want to be there to help them. The nurses let Shawna know immediately, and as much as they want us to.

“Tatum did such a great job of bringing people together with her spirit. It was the way she went about her fight. It touched a lot of people. This is what Tatum would have wanted us to do.”

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