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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
Basketball has been a huge part of the friendship between two area friends. So, when it came to doing a senior project the two knew that basketball would be a big part of it.

Edison’s Payton Littlefield and Elmira’s Ellie Clearwater are best friends whose friendship grew from playing travel ball together.

For their New Visions program the girls had to pick a project and they are doing a Hoop for Hope this Saturday with the JV game at 5 p.m. and at the varsity game at 6:30 p.m. as Edison and Elmira girls programs play each other.

“We knew we wanted it to be basketball, that’s how our friendship sparked,” Littlefield said. “We play on the same team (for travel ball), we started working out in the morning, we knew we wanted the project correlated to basketball.”

The game is a fundraiser game to benefit local leukemia patients. All the proceeds from the game will be donated to the Josh Palmer Fund.

“For New Visions we have an FCCFLA everyone is required in class to pick a project and we picked event managing,” Clearwater said. “We originally knew we wanted to do a project together and incorporate basketball.”

One of the first big things to get the event planned was arranging for Edison and Elmira girls to meet this year, something that doesn’t normally happen.

“We worked together with our coaches to pick a game, because this isn’t a usual thing,” Littlefield said. “We don’t usually play together, we had to work with the coaches to get the game on the schedule.”

While playing each other isn’t something that happens every year, the harder part was lining up sponsors for the event.

“I would think the hardest part of the whole thing was communicating with the businesses supporting us,” Littlefield said. “I think the easier part was getting the game on the schedule. Getting the press we wanted has been a difficult part.”

The coaches for Elmira and Edison helped their standout players make the game possible.

“When we told the coaches about it they were super for it,” Clearwater said. “Agreeing with Payton, the hardest part was reaching out and getting all our funding for it, and putting it Goethe and making t-shirts.”

This is a difficult time of year for the girls as they are in the middle of the basketball season, and dealing with school, along with the event, but they try and do a little at a time to make sure everything gets done.

“With finals and regents coming up, it’s a lot, but you do a little at a time so it doesn’t feel like a lot at the end,” Clearwater said.

Having a lot of help makes things easier for the girls as well.

“We have so many people helping us out,” Littlefield said. “Working together has been difficult (during the season), but if you do it in small bits at a time it isn’t so bad.”

The two have had a long history of playing in the Josh Palmer Fund Clarion Classic Holiday Tournament, and they felt like raising money for the Palmer Fund was the perfect thing to do.

“The Christmas Tourney has been huge for me and Payt and we have known the Palmers forever,” Clearwater said. “We knew to do it for the Josh Palmer Fund would be perfect, it would mean the most for us.”

The girls knew they wanted to do the fundraiser for something local, so the Palmer Fund was perfect.

“We knew we wanted it to be something local,” Littlefield said. “Not a big non-profit or something, we didn’t know where the money would be going. Mr. Palmer will put it to good use and we knew it would go to what we want it to go to.”

Josh Palmer has been a help for the girls as they plan the tournament.

“Mr. Palmer has been really great and working with us the whole time,” Clearwater said. “Having him help means a lot.”

While there are a lot of people in the area who support the Josh Palmer Fund, the girls know that even had they done the project for something else the support in the area is great enough they would have helped.

“I think if we did it for something else the same people would show up and and the same people would be just as supportive,” Littlefield said. “It helps that it’s local and the community has a great support system and they would support us in whatever we choose.”

The girls know the entire night will be something new and exciting as they don’t get to play each other very often.

“So different, we don’t get to play each other, just scrimmages and practices,” Littlefield said. “It’s definitely going to be different. We do play the Josh Palmer Tournament, but It will be a different environment for my team, bigger court, more people, something we aren’t especially used to. To do it and have it as a fundraiser is great. It’s great for me and Ellie to plan this, we learned some good life lessons. It’s been more of a learning moment for us as well.”

And, to square off in a regular season game is special for the two best friends.

“I am so excited, anytime me and Payt get on the court together it’s a great game,” Clearwater said. “We only scrimmage Edison, it’s great to play them in a game.”

Both girls would love if this event became an annual thing, but they know that’s going to be hard with the two teams playing in different leagues. And, they know it wouldn’t be the same if the game was just a scrimmage.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily as a scrimmage,” Littlefield said. “It would be really cool if it got to continue, but realistically I don’t see it happening because STAC and IAC typically don’t play each other.”

“I think it would be pretty cool if it did (continue), but we don’t typically play each other so I don’t think it would get scheduled again.”

The past couple games Clearwater has been out with an injury, and she hopes to be back for Saturday’s game.

“I am supposed to get cleared Thursday,” she said. “When I first went to the doctors that was the first thing I thought about and did all the calculations and was very hopeful for that.”

The game will include basket raffles, a 50/50 and selling t-shirts.

The goal for the game was to raise $1,000 and they have already exceeded that goal.

“For FCCLA we had to set a goal, our goal was $1,000,” Littlefield said. “As of right now we have succeeded, we are well over that goal. There isn’t a goal now, just want to have as successful of an event as we can and donate as much as we can to the Palmer Fund and make it a fun day too.”

The support for the event has been amazing, and both have enjoyed the whole process.

“We have had so much support from everyone,” Littlefield said. “Our friendship has actually gotten better because of this, because we are learning to do things in a different way. To work together to put something on in a school setting, like a group project, we haven’t gotten to do that before.

“It’s going to be great, we are really looking forward to it.”

For both the whole thing has been more special doing it together.

“I’m so happy that I’m able to do this with Payt,” Clearwater said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. Our support systems have been huge for us. Everything has been amazing. Everyone wants to see us succeed in this. I have co-workers who all took off work Saturday so they can go to the game. I think it’s going to be really good.”

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