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Norm Stewart, Cunningham sisters preview first-ever Sophie Cunningham Classic

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The first-ever Sophie Cunningham Classic presented by Norm Stewart will kick off on Friday, Dec. 2 and run through Sunday, Dec. 4. On Tuesday, Mizzou women's basketball alums Lindsey and Sophie Cunningham and legendary coach Norm Stewart met with the media to preview the event.

You can watch the full press conference with Norm Stewart, Lindsey Cunningham, and Sophie Cunningham in the video player below.

https://youtu.be/Or7cgRZADsE

Sophie said it was important to bring an event to Columbia that was just for the girls.

"There are a lot of boy tournaments around the nation and they get celebrities there, they get the cool gear and it's kind of unheard of for a girls high school classic to get any of that," she said. "We're trying to bring that to the women's side."

The Sophie Cunningham Classic will feature 12 teams in 21 games over the course of three days. Locally, the Rock Bridge, Helias, Jefferson City, Southern Boone, and Battle girls teams will all participate.

There will also be opportunities for the athletes to get to known each other and special guest speakers off the court, as well.

Stewart is working with the Cunningham sisters to coordinate the Classic, as his Norm Stewart Classic at Mizzou Arena has had a lot of success over the years. He said it's been fun working with the Cunningham family.

"I think back to my high school days and our girls team, in my town, was just as good as the boys team. That hasn't been unusual for me because I grew up with girls basketball," he said. "Now, to be able to do something and be involved with it...I'm pleased to be involved with that."

The group said it can sometimes be difficult to get recruits to Columbia, so while this is a great opportunity for high school athletes, it's also a big opportunity for local coaches.

"It's a challenge, regardless of what level you are playing at, to play college basketball," Lindsey said. "Any athlete that can come in and play college ball is impressive and we just hope to give them maybe just a little bit more of an opportunity to do that."

The Sophie Cunningham Classic will all be played at Columbia College. The first gam tips off at 6:00 p.m. in a match up between South Iron and Lincoln College Prep.

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Nathalie Jones

Nathalie anchors and reports sports for ABC17. She started working at the station in June 2020.

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