Hamilton Y takes a shot at breaking basketball world record

The YMCA is trying to break a Guiness World Record with five million free-throw attempts.

YMCA world challenge attempts to break 5 million free-throw attempts

There was no height requirement to take part in the YMCA World Challenge to break a Guiness World Record on Saturday. (Adam Carter/CBC)

One day. Five million baskets.

That's the world record YMCAs across the world are trying to break Saturday — and Hamilton is among them.

It's all part of YMCA World Hoops Challenge — a worldwide event in which YMCAs in more than 80 countries come together to try and break the Guinness World Record for most people attempting shots on a basketball net.

If you went to the downtown Hamilton YMCA Saturday morning, chances are two smiling women dragged you to a makeshift net for a free-throw.

Miranda deRoux grabbed people to shoot at a makeshift basket in the YMCA lobby, too. (Adam Carter/CBC)

"Come on," shouted Vanessa Werstine at people passing by. "Just one! Anything counts!"

That "anything counts" message is exactly what the YMCA is trying to get through to kids, says Lisa Roddie, the general manager of the downtown YMCA.

"It's all about the attempt," Roddie said. "We're trying to get the kids to understand that they can be part of something bigger."

In just over an hour, Roddie and her crew had managed 106 basket attempts. Therein lies the catch — one person can't just stand beneath the bucket and lob balls into the net all day. Only separate attempts from separate people count.

"Our goal is about 2,500 here. It's every little bit," Roddie said.

Roddie has been the general manager of the downtown YMCA for about two years — but has been involved with the organization for more than two decades.

About 7,000 people use the facilities each week — mostly students, she says. The YMCA is open 365 days a year, and about 65 per cent of its members receive some sort of financial assistance.

The YMCA provides valuable community services on top of just being a place for people to work out, Roddie says.

"On a Friday night, I'd much rather see my gym full of teenagers rather than having them somewhere else," she said.

The downtown YMCA is just one of five area chapters taking part in the competition — the Mountain YMCA is participating along with Burlington, Flamborough and Brantford.

Canadian James Naismith created basketball during a YMCA event in the U.S., so capturing the record would be a little bit like a homecoming for the organization.

"It would be kind of fitting for the record to come back to the Y," she said.

Check Challenge.ymca.int to see if the YMCA manages to break the current record.


Adam Carter


Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.