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Hundreds Hit the Courts for Hoops in the Hood

As the jubilant members of the East Garfield Park basketball team celebrated, jumping up and down, straining to touch the trophy they had just claimed, it was clear they had won more than a basketball game.

The 2010 Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament winners for the Major Division also won a victory for their neighborhood, for the spirit of teamwork, and for safe streets.

More than 250 players from 10 neighborhoods competed in the Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament.

The fourth annual competition, on August 21 at Seward Park, featured 250 players from teams in 10 neighborhoods across the city, which participated in three Divisions: Major (15 to 19 years old), Minor (11 to 14) and Pee-Wee (8 to 10). East Garfield Park took home the Major Division title; Little Village won the Minor Division, and the Pee-Wee champs hailed from North Lawndale.

Hoops in the Hood, a program of LISC/Chicago’s Neighborhood Sports Chicago, is the culmination of summer-long basketball leagues where athletes, parents and community members reclaim the streets of their neighborhood. Spectators grill food, cheer on their teams and participate in arts and crafts.

Teams from Auburn Gresham, Back of the Yards, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, West Haven, North Lawndale, Pilsen and the Near North Side competed in the event, which was sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

“Programs like Hoops in the Hood bring communities together, which is so important when many people worry about violence in our streets,” said Keri Blackwell, senior program officer for LISC/Chicago. “There are so many young people in Chicago looking for safe and fun activities, but often they have to overcome large obstacles to participate in them.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) welcomed the players, coaches and families to the tournament, which drew onlookers from the neighborhood. He praised the players’ dedication to teamwork, sportsmanship and nonviolence. “This is more than just basketball,” Burnett said to the crowd. “It’s a positive competitive outlet for youth.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) welcomes the players to Seward Park.

Players said they appreciated the opportunity to interact with kids from different parts of the city.

“We’ve seen Hoops in the Hood consistently bring communities together to take a stand against violence,” Blackwell said. “The positive message sent by these athletes strengthens not only the community, but the  entire city as well."

This article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of Working Capital, LISC/Chicago's newsletter. To see the whole issue, please click here.

Posted in Auburn Gresham, Back of the Yards, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, Near North Side, North Lawndale, Pilsen, West Haven

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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