In the summer of 2022, there have been countless events regarding Chicago’s youth and plans to keep them safe. Most summers in North Lawndale focus on preparing youth with a different perspective on life. However, in 2022, things changed. Now the community focuses on building bonding and communication skills post-coronavirus-quarantine years. Hope in the Hood is an organization that brings together neighborhood youth through basketball.
Roswell B. Mason Elementary School in North Lawndale hosted the Hope in the Hood basketball tournament. Teams matched up throughout the summer ending with four-team playoff tournaments. Players had the chance to show off their skills while etching their name in history as the new champions. As games started, more community members came out to support the teams. At the end of the tournament, there was a prize.
Creating Hope in the Community
Hope in the Hood created a needed structure for times like this in North Lawndale. The games were interesting, with commentators ensuring the crowd was into the action. There were moments when players were hot. Then, players started getting colder than ice. It was interesting to see youth from different areas of North Lawndale come together, find the will to play their game, and show off their talents.
Mason Elementary and Hope in the Hood decided that the outdoor court would be a great way of bringing the people together. Once the Mason school year ended, they gave their students a haven to be among themselves. Hope in the Hood caught the attention of other organizations, like UCAN, who partnered to help the community. They provided the food for the Hope in the Hood season and tournament.
Championship Frenzy Creates Unity
Roswell B. Mason held their annual alum reunion on August 6, 2022. The reunion focused on the Hope in the Hood playoff tournament. Four teams left, and there was nothing but the heart of future champions surrounding the courts.
The first game had the two favorites against one another; two undefeated teams went head to head to see who was going to the finals. The game was close, but only one team could advance. Team Hope managed to pull off the win, 47-40, in the game’s last few moments. Team Mason and YMEN faced each other for the final remaining championship game spot set for later that day.
Participant James Williams stated, “It’s sometimes hard to find places to hoop. Hope in the Hood gave us a chance to show our game. Hope in the Hood even made sure to get us out here every week, consistency is key, but for some of us, basketball may be all we have.”
Building Relationships That Can Last a Lifetime
Team YMEN gave everything they had against Team Mason but ultimately came short. Those five players lost by the skin of their teeth; 40-37.
The Hope in the Hood’s championship game between Team Hope and Team Mason was a great classic basketball match. It had more surprises and clutch buckets than the rest of the tournament. In the end, one team seemed to want the win more, and Team Hope defeated Team Mason 41-37.
Hope in the Hood’s MVP Semaj Roy commented on the tournament’s value:
Since I was 13, I have played in this tournament which signifies unity. People from different neighborhoods come from all over to participate. This is maybe one of the best ways of bringing each other together, especially for youth wanting to improve their skills.
Summer is winding down, and the school year is coming up. Perhaps, Hope in the Hood will create another tournament during the school year for youth.
Written by Semetrius Holmes
Edited by Sheena Robertson
Interview: Semaj Roy and James Williams on August 6, 2022
Images Courtesy of Semetrius Holmes